Using Sign Language to Request Help

2015-0708 Sign Language Interpreting

In what appears to be a press release, Tracy Ith of Microsoft tells us Microsoft Disability Answer Desk is now supporting American Sign Language.

The faulty dialog box that kept popping up on Melissa “echo” Greenlee’s laptop bugged her for years, so when she learned she could now get Microsoft technical help in American Sign Language, there was really no reason not to get it fixed.

Greenlee, a deaf entrepreneur and advocate, was among the first to use the new support feature for asking questions and getting assistance through Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk. For “something as technical as computer trouble shooting, I need things as simple and clear as possible,” she says. “Being able to communicate in my primary language of ASL was like a breath of fresh air.”

The ASL support lets people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing get assistance for using Microsoft products in general, as well as assistive technologies such as screen magnifiers, speech recognition software and their devices’ accessibility settings.

It’s available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, when people can reach an agent who speaks ASL as their primary language via a videophone. The support is currently offered in the US only, though the company is continuing to evaluate the need for potential expansion internationally.

According to Laura Greer, Microsoft senior business program manager, ASL support gives people who are most comfortable communicating through sign language “the opportunity to fix their technical issue with someone who speaks their own language.” Early feedback, she adds, has been positive.

Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk is part of the company’s commitment to help people of all abilities achieve more. Since it was launched in early 2013, it has grown into a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week service that’s now available in 11 countries. ASL joins English, Spanish and French as the fourth language people can use when they’re looking for technical support.

You can learn more about the ASL support in this short video overview or by visiting the Disability Answer Desk.


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thanks to Tracy Ith, Microsoft News Center staff, for sharing the information; Microsoft for including the Disability Answer Desk in its services; Google for helping me find the information; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text in this post.

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