Accessibility

Use Microsoft Teams more Inclusively

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In this topic

  • Tips for organizers

    • Plan for an inclusive meeting or live event

    • Gather and share the material

    • Provide info on how to easily access the meeting

    • Include live captions

    • Include Q&A

    • Share the meeting or live event recording

  • Tips for producers

    • Set up for an inclusive live event

    • Record meetings

    • Reduce distractions

  • Tips for presenters and speakers

    • Before your presentation

    • During your presentation

 

Tips for organizers

As a meeting or live event organizer you are responsible for planning and scheduling the meeting or event. You also create the live event, and set up the permissions for the attendees and the group that manages the event. Consider the tips below to organize an inclusive meeting or live event.

Plan for an inclusive meeting or live event

  • When planning for a meeting or event, ask the participants which type of accessibility they need. You can include this question on a registration form, for example.

  • For a live event, consider using a production crew that can provide multiple camera feeds, so the speaker’s camera is also visible to the audience. This enables people who are lip readers to follow along.

  • Make sure there is adequate lighting on the person speaking. People who read lips need to see the speaker’s lips.

  • Suggest that speakers wear dissimilar colors to their skin tone so the contrast will be high. Otherwise the lighting can wash out people’s faces and make reading lips difficult.

Gather and share the material

  • To make it easier for everyone to follow the presentations in a meeting or live event, ask the presenters to deliver the content they’ll be sharing in advance if possible. Remind the presenters that their material should be accessible. Make the links to the material available to the audience before the meeting or event.

  • Make sure the short aka link to the material is displayed on the opening slide of the presentation and in the event announcements leading up to the broadcast.

  • Make sure the materials are available also after the meeting or live event including the meeting or event recording.

Provide info on how to easily access the meeting

  • Let the participants know how to access the meeting or event with alternative means, for example, keyboard shortcuts or voice assistance.

  • Provide a direct link to join the live event for those who can join using their computer or smart device. However, it is important to remember that some individuals may not have easy access to the Internet. Make sure the dial-in number is included in the invitation along with the link to your meeting.

  • Select the easy access options to let people join a meeting in progress from within a Microsoft Teams meeting. We are making it easier for meeting organizers to quickly and easily change their presenter and lobby settings once a Microsoft Teams meeting starts by providing an easy to access link directly in the participants pane. This new functionality will be available for both the scheduled and Meet Now instant meetings.

Include live captions

Microsoft Teams can detect what’s said in a meeting or live event and present real-time captions. Live captioning provides everyone an equal opportunity to access and enjoy the meeting or event.

  • In a Microsoft Teams meeting, you can use the live captions straight from the meeting window. 

  • When scheduling a Microsoft Teams live event, select the Captions option in the language you will be speaking and up to 6 additional languages to reach an even broader audience. 

    Dialog box to select the QA option for Teams live event when scheduling an event.

 

Include Q&A

In a Microsoft Teams live event, the attendees can type their questions to the Q&A pane to interact with the event team and participate in the event. When scheduling a live event, select the Q&A option to include the feature in your event.

Dialog box to select the QA option for Teams live event when scheduling an event.

 

Share the meeting or live event recording

  • When you’re scheduling a live event, select the relevant recording options to make the recording available for everyone.

    Dialog box to select recording options for a Teams live event when scheduling the event.

  • Share the recording and other materials after the meeting or live event so attendees can review them on their own time. Ensure recordings of the event have accurate time synced closed captions.

Tips for producers

As the Microsoft Teams live event producer, you’re the host who controls the live event stream to make sure the attendees can enjoy a smooth event experience. 

In a Microsoft Teams meeting, a producer shares the tasks of an organizer and presenter. 

Set up for an inclusive live event

  • At the start of a meeting or event, announce the available accessibility features (interpretation, captions, accessible docs).

  • Use the two content layout to simultaneously broadcast your slide decks or screen shares along the sign language interpreter’s camera.

  • Make sure the sign language interpreters supporting webinar presenters share their camera feed to the audience.

  • To enable attendee live captions and subtitles, in the live event window, select The Settings icon in a Microsoft Teams live event window  > Attendee live captions. Attendees will get a notification when you change this setting.

Record meetings

Record the meeting so the attendees can revisit the points discussed on their own time. For a Microsoft Teams live event, the organizer needs to select the recording option to make a recording available for the attendees.

Reduce distractions

To make sure everyone can enjoy the meeting or live event without distractions and concentrate on the matter at hand, consider the following tips:

  • Establish the rules for participation, for example, how to get the presenter’s attention or how to participate. For example, in a Microsoft Teams meeting, the participants can raise virtual hand or use the chat. In a live event, the attendees can ask questions using the Q&A pane (if enabled).

  • Blur the speaker’s background. However, do not blur the sign language interpreter’s background as this might obscure the sign language. When people use pictures as a virtual background, it can wash away their face, which can make reading lips difficult.

  • In a live event, to avoid background noise that might make captioning and sign language interpretation difficult, mute all participants. Inform everyone that only one person should speak at a time and that all others are muted.

Tips for presenters and speakers

As the meeting or live event presenter or speaker, you present audio, video, or a screen to the attendees, or moderate the event Q&A. You share many of the basic capabilities of a producer in a meeting or live event. You won’t have as much control over the video feeds or the live event itself. 

Before your presentation

  • Make sure the material you’re sharing is accessible to everyone. 

    Use the Accessibility Checker to make sure your material is accessible.

  • Make the material you’re sharing in your presentation available to the attendees or the organizer before the meeting or event. Provide a link to the PowerPoint slides, PDFs, or any other material in advance. This way the audience can familiarize themselves with the material and can follow your presentation more easily.

During your presentation

  • Introduce yourself prior to your presentation.

  • Check with the attendees if you’re speaking too fast or loud enough.

  • At the beginning of your meeting or event, give a short summary of your presentation to let your audience know what to expect.

  • State your major points first before going into details. Stick to one topic at a time. If you jump around between topics, you will confuse your audience.

  • Talk slowly and clearly and use plain language to make the meeting or event more understandable and accessible to attendees with disabilities as well as people with limited English proficiency. Use everyday words, define technical terms, and omit unnecessary words. Use short sentences, and speak using the active voice.

  • If you’re using a slide deck, read the slide title every time you advance to a new slide. Before you start talking about your slide, describe any images on the slide such as photos, graphs, charts etc.

  • Describe any meaningful content shown on screen such as images. If you’re showing videos, try to use an audio described version of the video.

  • Describe each demo before and after. Alternatively, share the screen reader audio during demos. To silence the screen reader when you’re talking, press the Ctrl key.

This topic gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make your Microsoft Teams meetings, live events, calls, and messages accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Microsoft Teams has many features built-in that help people with different abilities to participate in and contribute to meetings, read messages, and engage in discussions. You’ll learn, for example, how to turn on transcriptions and captions, pin sign language interpreter’s video, and reduce distractions in meetings. You’ll also learn how to maximize the inclusiveness in your messages and in the content you’re planning to share.

 

In this topic

  • Share accessible content
  • Make your meetings, live events, and calls accessible
  • Create accessible messages

 

Share accessible content

If you are planning to share content such as PowerPoint presentations in meetings, calls, or messages, use the Accessibility Checker to make sure the content is accessible before sharing it. The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear. You can find the Accessibility Checker in most Microsoft 365 apps such as PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.

 

Make your meetings, live events, and calls accessible

Whether you’re a meeting or event organizer or presenter, or just simply setting up a call, ensure that everyone can participate in and contribute to the meeting or call. You can, for example, turn on transcriptions and captions or pin a sign language interpreter’s video for easy access.

 

Turn on transcriptions and captions

When you use captions or transcriptions, people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have a learning disability like dyslexia, for example, can follow the meeting audio as text. It is also possible to capture the text version of a Microsoft Teams call and save it for later use.

 

Spotlight a video

If you’re a meeting organizer or presenter, you can spotlight someone’s video to pin it for everyone in the meeting. For example, you can spotlight a sign language interpreter’s video so that participants with a hearing disability can easily access and focus on the interpreter’s video.

 

Reduce distractions

Reducing distractions in meetings, live events, and calls can help everyone focus on the person who is speaking or the material that is being shared.

For example, if you’re presenting, you can blur your background or use a steady image to make the background less prominent or busy. 

Similarly, when your mic is turned on in a meeting or call, background noise around you—shuffling papers, slamming doors, barking dogs, and so on—can distract others. In Microsoft Teams for Windows desktop, you can choose from three levels of noise suppression to help everyone concentrate on what’s going on in the meeting or call.

 

Record meetings 

Record the meeting so the participants can revisit the points discussed in their own time and review what they might have missed the first time. It is also possible to watch recordings at slower and faster speeds. The recordings are indexed so the participants can go over specific segments based on slide transitions.

 

Create accessible messages

Accessible chat and channel messages are easy to read and understand for everyone. For example, screen reader users can quickly scan long messages if you structure them well using built-in heading styles and lists. You can also use descriptive subjects in your messages, add alt texts to images, and choose appropriate emoticons and emojis to make your messages as inclusive as possible.

 

Add a message subject to a channel message

Adding a descriptive subject to your channel messages can help screen reader users to scan and navigate posts in a channel and get an overview of the content in your messages.

  1. In the expanded message compose box, place the cursor in the Add a subject text field, and then type a subject for your message.

The Add a subject text field in Microsoft Teams. 

 

Create accessible headings

Using descriptive headings in your channel and chat message bodies can help your readers to quickly scan your message, both visually and with assistive technology and get an overview of what your message is all about.

Ideally, headings explain what a section in your message is about. Use the built-in heading styles and create descriptive heading texts to make it easier for screen reader users to determine the structure of the message and navigate the headings.

Organize headings in the prescribed logical order and do not skip heading levels. For example, use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2. Organize the information into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

  1. In the expanded message compose box, place the cursor where you want to create a heading.

  2. Select the drop-down list for styles (Rich styles), and then select the heading style you want.

The Styles button and list in Microsoft Teams. 

Avoid using tables

In general, avoid tables if possible and present the data another way, like paragraphs with headings. Tables with fixed width might prove difficult to read for people who use Magnifier, because such tables force the content to a specific size. This makes the font very small, which forces Magnifier users to scroll horizontally, especially on mobile devices.

If you have to use tables, use the following guidelines to make sure your table is as accessible as possible:

  • Avoid fixed width tables.

  • If you have hyperlinks in your table, edit the link texts, so they make sense and don’t break mid-sentence.

  • Make sure the tables are easily read with Magnifier. View your message on a mobile device to make sure people won’t need to horizontally scroll it on a phone, for example.

 

Add alt text to visuals in chat messages

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in visual content. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention its intent. Screen readers read the text to describe the image to users who can’t see the image.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the message content. In alt text, mention the existence of the text and its intent.

If an image is purely decorative, mention that in the alt text.

Tip: To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldn’t be longer than a short sentence or two—most of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, “a graphic of” or “an image of.” 

  1. Paste the image into your chat message.

    Note: Currently, it’s not possible to add alt text to attached images or images in channel messages.

  2. Right-click the image, and then select Add alt text. The Alt text dialog box opens.

  3. Type the alt text for the image.

  4. Select Save.

 

Use accessible font size and color and inclusive text formatting

An accessible font and text formatting don’t exclude or slow down the reading speed of anyone reading the content in a message, including people with low vision, reading disability, or people who are blind. The right font and formatting improve the legibility and readability of the message. The text in your message should also be readable in a high contrast mode.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • To ensure that text displays well in a high contrast mode, use the Automatic setting for font colors.

  • Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines.

  • A person with a vision disability might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text so that people who are colorblind know that the text is linked even if they can’t see the color.

  • From the three font sizes available in the Microsoft Teams messages, select Large.

 

Create accessible hyperlinks

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. If the title on the hyperlink’s destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Create more with Microsoft templates. Avoid using link texts such as “Click here,” “See this page,” Go here,” or “Learn more.”

 

Create accessible lists

To make it easier for screen readers to read your Microsoft Teams messages, organize the information into small chunks such as bulleted or numbered lists.

Design lists so that you do not need to add a plain paragraph without a bullet or number to the middle of a list. If your list is broken up by a plain paragraph, some screen readers might announce the number of list items wrong. Also, the user might hear in the middle of the list that they are leaving the list.

  1. In the expanded message compose box, place the cursor where you want to create a list.

  2. To create a bulleted or numbered list, select  The Bulleted list button in Microsoft Teams. (Bulleted list) or  The Numbered list button in Microsoft Teams. (Numbered list).

  3. Type your list items.

 

Choose your emojis, emoticons, and GIFs carefully

If you use emojis, emoticons, or GIFs in your messages, select them carefully and keep your audience in mind. Use emojis, emoticons, or GIFs occasionally for emphasis instead of trying to communicate your whole message with them. 

Preferably, use emojis or emoticons that do not move instead of those that move continuously. Use with caution the ones that move for a brief period. While these moving symbols might be entertaining for some, others might find them distractive, and therefore they might have difficulties focusing on your message.

Some of your readers might be using screen readers or other assistive technologies, magnification, zoom, or a different color scheme on their computer such as a high contrast mode. To make sure the emojis, emoticons, or GIFs are inclusive, do the following:

  • Test what the emojis and emoticons look like when magnified, for example, to 200%.

  • Make sure that there is alt text. Add alt text if possible or describe the emoji, emoticon, or GIF within the message body.

  • If you’re using emojis, emoticons, or GIFs in place of text, select the ones that have good color contrast.

Use common symbols whose meaning your readers are likely to be familiar with. For example, an avocado emoji to reference healthy eating might not be understood by everyone reading your message.

For people with cognitive disabilities, novelty or unusual emoticons, emojis, and GIFs can make your message more difficult to understand. For example, some people might be unable to decode an emoticon that is sideways.

 

Test accessibility with Immersive Reader 

Once you’ve posted your message, try reading it with Immersive Reader to check how it sounds like. If you notice any issues with accessibility, you can edit the message and then repost it.

When setting up and running Microsoft Teams meetings and live events, it’s important to be aware of best practices in making sure your content is accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. Features such as live captions and choosing a clear background are important for making sure everyone can participate equally.

In this topic

  • Enable live captions

  • Choose a clear background

  • Best practices for participants

  • Record and share meetings

 

Enable live captions

Microsoft Teams can detect what’s said in a meeting and offer real-time captions. Live captions can make your meeting more inclusive to participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, people with different levels of language proficiency, and participants in loud places by giving them another way to follow along.

To enable live captions:

  • In a Microsoft Teams meeting, go to your meeting controls and select More options > Turn on live captions (preview).

 

Choose a clear background

If participants or presenters in your meeting or live event will be signing, it is important to make sure their backgrounds are kept as clear as possible to make sure all gestures are easy to make out. Avoid blurring the background, as this can make gestures blurred out as well, or obstruct body language that would help others to follow along with what’s being discussed.

 

Best practices for participants

When participating in a Microsoft Teams meeting or live event with other participants or presenters who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are some simple tips to keep in mind to make the experience accessible, enjoyable, and productive for everyone.

  • Turn on video when speaking to allow deaf participants to read lips.

    Tip: To toggle video on or off, press Ctrl+Shift+O.

  • Mute your audio when not speaking to avoid unnecessary background noise.

    Tip: To toggle mute on or off, press Ctrl+Shift+M.

  • Avoid multiple people taking the floor at once and signal speaker changes clearly.

  • Identify yourself before commenting to make discussions easier to follow without sound cues.

  • Speak slowly and clearly.

 

Record and share meetings

Recording a meeting and being able to share the recording is especially important so all participants are able to review what was being discussed and to go over specific segments that they might have missed the first time. Make sure that any recordings of the meeting or event have accurate and time-synced closed captions.

Many users find that using an external keyboard with keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams on Windows helps them work more efficiently. For users with mobility or vision disabilities, keyboard shortcuts can be easier than a touchscreen and are an essential alternative to a mouse. This article itemizes the keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Teams on Windows using a PC keyboard.

Notes: 

  • The shortcuts in this topic refer to the US keyboard layout. Keys for other layouts might not correspond exactly to the keys on a US keyboard.

  • A plus sign (+) in a shortcut means that you need to press multiple keys at the same time.

  • A comma sign (,) in a shortcut means that you need to press multiple keys in order.

  • You can easily access the keyboard shortcuts list from within Microsoft Teams.

 

In this topic

  • General

  • Navigation

  • Messaging

  • Meetings and calls

  • Activity feed

  • Debug

 

General

To do this

In the Desktop app, press

In the Web app, press

Show keyboard shortcuts.

Ctrl+Period (.)

Ctrl+Period (.)

Go to Search.

Ctrl+E

Ctrl+Alt+E

Open filter.

Ctrl+Shift+F

Ctrl+Shift+F

Start a new chat.

Ctrl+N

Left Alt+N

Start a chat in a new window.

Ctrl+Shift+N

Alt+Shift+N

Open Settings.

Ctrl+Comma (,)

Ctrl+Shift+Comma (,)

Open Help.

F1

Ctrl+F1

Close.

Esc

Esc

Zoom in.

Ctrl+Equals sign (=)

No shortcut

Zoom out.

Ctrl+Minus sign (-)

No shortcut

Reset zoom level.

Ctrl+0

No shortcut

Open an existing chat in a new window.

Cltrl+O

No shortcut

Report a problem.

Cltrl+Alt+Shift+R

No shortcut

 

Show keyboard shortcuts

You can access the keyboard shortcuts directly from within the app in several ways. The methods below apply to both the Desktop and Web apps.

  • Press Ctrl+Period (.).

  • Select the Settings and more button in the upper-right corner of Microsoft Teams, and then select Keyboard shortcuts.

  • To navigate to the keyboard shortcuts with a screen reader, press the Tab key until you hear “Settings and more,” then press Enter. Press the Down arrow key until you hear “Keyboard shortcuts,” then press Enter.

 

 

Messaging

To do this

In the Desktop app, press

In the Web app, press

Go to compose box.

Ctrl+R

Alt+Shift+R

Expand compose box.

Ctrl+Shift+X

Ctrl+Shift+X

Send a message.

Ctrl+Enter

Ctrl+Enter

Attach a file.

Alt+Shift+O

No shortcut

Start a new line.

Shift+Enter

Shift+Enter

Paragraph style.

Ctrl+Alt+P

Ctrl+Alt+P

Insert code.

Ctrl+Alt+5

Ctrl+Alt+5

Mark a message as important.

Ctrl+Shift+I

Ctrl+Shift+I

Jump to last read/latest message.

Ctrl+J

Alt+J

Search current chat or channel messages.

Ctrl+F

Ctrl+F

Insert link.

Ctrl+K

Ctrl+K

Insert block quote.

Ctrl+Alt+4

Ctrl+Alt+4

Pop Out Existing Chat/Channel.

Ctrl+O

No shortcut

Apply the heading 1 style.

Ctrl+Alt+1

Ctrl+Alt+1

Apply the heading 2 style.

Ctrl+Alt+2

Ctrl+Alt+2

Apply the heading 3 style.

Ctrl+Alt+3

Ctrl+Alt+3

Open 1st Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+1

Alt+1

Open 2nd Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+2

Alt+2

Open 3rd Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+3

Alt+3

Open 4th Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+4

Alt+4

Open 5th Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+5

Alt+5

Open 6th Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+6

Alt+6

Open 7th Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+7

Alt+7

Open 8th Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+8

Alt+8

Open 9th Tab on Chat Pane header.

Alt+9

Alt+9

Chat/Channel Details Pane.

Alt+P

Alt+P

Reply to the latest/selected message.

Alt+Shift+R

Alt+R

Edit last sent/selected message.

Alt+Shift+E

Alt+Shift+E

React on the latest/selected message.

Ctrl+Alt+R

Ctrl+Alt+R

See all unread chats.

Ctrl+Alt+U

Ctrl+Alt+U

See all chats.

Ctrl+Alt+C

Ctrl+Alt+C

See all meeting chats.

Ctrl+Alt+M

Ctrl+Alt+M

See all muted chats.

Ctrl+Alt+E

Ctrl+Alt+E

Record Video Clip.

Alt+Shift+E

Alt+Shift+E

 

 

Meetings and calls

Note: To use the temporarily unmute shortcut, first go to Settings>Privacy and make sure Keyboard shortcut to unmute is switched on.

To do this

In the Desktop app, press

In the Web app, press

Accept video call.

Ctrl+Shift+A

Alt+Shift+A

Accept audio call.

Ctrl+Shift+S

Alt+Shift+S

Decline call.

Ctrl+Shift+D

Ctrl+Shift+D

Start audio call.

Alt+Shift+A

Alt+Shift+A

Start video call.

Alt+Shift+V

Alt+Shift+V

End audio call.

Ctrl+Shift+H

Ctrl+Shift+H

End video call.

Ctrl+Shift+H

Ctrl+Shift+H

Toggle mute.

Win+Alt+K, or,

Ctrl+Shift+M

Win+Alt+K, or,

Ctrl+Shift+M

Temporarily unmute.

Ctrl+Spacebar

Ctrl+Spacebar

Announce raised hands (screen reader).

Ctrl+Shift+L

Ctrl+Shift+L

Raise or lower your hand.

Ctrl+Shift+K

Ctrl+Shift+K

Toggle video.

Ctrl+Shift+O

No shortcut

Decline screen share.

Ctrl+Shift+D

No shortcut

Accept screen share.

Ctrl+Shift+A

No shortcut

Admit people from lobby notification.

Ctrl+Shift+Y

No shortcut

Schedule a meeting.

Alt+Shift+N

Alt+Shift+N

Save or send meeting request.

Ctrl+S

Ctrl+S

Join from meeting details.

Alt+Shift+J

Alt+Shift+J

Go to suggested time.

Alt+Shift+S

Alt+Shift+S

Join from meeting started toast.

Ctrl+Shift+J

No shortcut

Open meeting chat.

Ctrl+Shift+R

No shortcut

Zoom into shared content.

Alt+Shift+Equal sign (-)

Alt+Shift+Equal sign (-)

Zoom out from shared content.

Alt+Shift+Minus sign (-)

Alt+Shift+Minus sign (-)

Reset zoom for shared content.

Alt+Shift+0

Alt+Shift+0

Pan shared content up.

Alt+Shift+Up arrow key

Alt+Shift+Up arrow key

Pan shared content down.

Alt+Shift+Down arrow key

Alt+Shift+Down arrow key

Pan shared content left.

Alt+Shift+Left arrow key

Alt+Shift+Left arrow key

Pan shared content right.

Alt+Shift+Right arrow key

Alt+Shift+Right arrow key

 

 

Activity feed

To do this

In the Desktop app, press

In the Web app, press

Mark all as read.

Ctrl+Alt+K

Ctrl+Alt+K

See all unread activity.

Ctrl+Alt+U

Ctrl+Alt+U

Filter activity to missed calls.

Ctrl+Alt+C

Ctrl+Alt+C

Filter activity to @ mentions.

Ctrl+Alt+M

Ctrl+Alt+M

Note: Currently, Ctrl+Shift+F works in Activity to open the filter view.

 

Debug

To do this

In the Desktop app, press

In the Web app, press

Download diagnostic logs.

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+1

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+1

 

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