Microsoft has announced new text-to-speech and speech-to-text features for Xbox Party Chat, which aim to help make communication on the platform more accessible. The features are currently being tested through the Xbox Insider program.

The speech-to-text feature puts a window on the screen with automatic transcriptions of what people in the voice chat are saying, along with an indicator of whether the message was typed or spoken aloud. This could help people who are hard of hearing to participate in the chat, even if the other participants are speaking instead of typing.

The window in the top right shows transcribed text from voice chat.Image: Microsoft

The text-to-speech feature goes the other way, reading out a user’s typed messages for the rest of the party chat members to hear. The user is also able to choose from a list of voices to better customize what their messages sound like to others.

Microsoft has recently been pushing accessibility with Xbox: it started a program earlier this year to help developers make their games more accessible, and it has made the Xbox Adaptive Controller to help gamers with a wide range of motor abilities. It’s good to see them continuing that work, especially around voice chat.

If you’re an Xbox Insider, you can enable the features by going to Settings > Ease of Access > Game and chat transcription, or by going to Options > Ease of Access settings while in a chat.

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