In 2010, the Communications and Video Visibility Act(CVVA) was passed in the United States that demanded all advanced communications services including video games be accessible to users with various types of impairments.
The Electronic Software Association(ESA) appealed for a waiver back then, that allowed video games to be exempt from this law. The waiver has expired as of 31st December 2018 and all video games that enter development after this date or are currently under development or with major upcoming updates must abide by the law.
To make it clear, the law requires game developers to make advanced communications services accessible and not the entire video games. These include voice chat, text chat, and video chat, including those in-game software, gameplay and distribution networks and consoles.
If failed to do so, customers can file complaints to the FCC, which will then be mediated by the government agency. The FCC will take into account “what efforts have been made and how feasible the issue is to fix. The customer has the right to extend the initial mediation period if they choose. If not, substantial fines may be issued at the FCC’s discretion.”
The CVVA requires people with disabilities to be a part of these games’ development, designing and testing processes. According to CVVA Performance Objectives laid down at Paciello Grop’s official website, the term “accessible” shall mean that games (especially the communication features) should be operable without vision, with low vision and limited or no hearing, with little or no colour perception, without hearing, with limited manual dexterity, with limited reach and strength, with a prosthetic device, without time-dependent controls, without speech and with limited cognitive skills.
Additionally, all individuals with disabilities must have access to the full functionality and documentation for the product, “including instructions, product information (including accessible feature information), documentation and technical support functionally equivalent to that provided to individuals without disabilities.”
The law also demands the availability of on-screen information in an auditory form, for low vision users, static presentation mode, tactile form and hearing aid compatibility.
Directly pasted from Paciello Group’s website –
Appendix: CVAA Performance Objectives
§ 14.21 Performance Objectives.
(a) Generally – Manufacturers and service providers shall ensure that equipment and services covered by this part are accessible, usable, and compatible as those terms are defined in paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section.
(b) Accessible – The term accessible shall mean that:
(1) Input, control, and mechanical functions shall be locatable, identifiable, and operable in accordance with each of the following, assessed independently:
(i) Operable without vision. Provide at least one mode that does not require user vision.
(ii) Operable with low vision and limited or no hearing. Provide at least one mode that permits operation by users with visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200, without relying on audio output.
(iii) Operable with little or no colour perception. Provide at least one mode that does not require user colour perception.
(iv) Operable without hearing. Provide at least one mode that does not require user auditory perception.
(v) Operable with limited manual dexterity. Provide at least one mode that does not require user fine motor control or simultaneous actions.
(vi) Operable with limited reach and strength. Provide at least one mode that is operable with user limited reach and strength.
(vii) Operable with a Prosthetic Device. Controls shall be operable without requiring body contact or close body proximity.
(viii) Operable without time-dependent controls. Provide at least one mode that does not require a response time or allows response time to be bypassed or adjusted by the user over a wide range.
(ix) Operable without speech. Provide at least one mode that does not require user speech.
(x) Operable with limited cognitive skills. Provide at least one mode that minimizes the cognitive, memory, language, and learning skills required of the user.
(2) All information necessary to operate and use the product, including but not limited to, text, static or dynamic images, icons, labels, sounds, or incidental operating cues, [shall] comply with each of the following, assessed independently:
(i) Availability of visual information. Provide visual information through at least one mode in auditory form.
(ii) Availability of visual information for low vision users. Provide visual information through at least one mode to users with visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/200 without relying on audio.
(iii) Access to moving text. Provide moving text in at least one static presentation mode at the option of the user.
(iv) Availability of auditory information. Provide auditory information through at least one mode in visual form and, where appropriate, in tactile form.
(v) Availability of auditory information for people who are hard of hearing. Provide audio or acoustic information, including any auditory feedback tones that are important for the use of the product, through at least one mode in enhanced auditory fashion (i.e., increased amplification, increased signal to noise ratio, or combination).
(vi) Prevention of visually induced seizures. Visual displays and indicators shall minimize visual flicker that might induce seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy.
(vii) Availability of audio cutoff. Where a product delivers audio output through an external speaker, provide an industry standard connector for headphones or personal listening devices (e.g., phone like handset or earcup) which cuts off the speaker(s) when used.
(viii) Non interference with hearing technologies. Reduce interference to hearing technologies (including hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices) to the lowest possible level that allows a user to utilize the product.
(ix) Hearing aid coupling. Where a product delivers output by an audio transducer which is normally held up to the ear, provide a means for effective wireless coupling to hearing aids.
(c) Usable: The term usable shall mean that individuals with disabilities have access to the full functionality and documentation for the product, including instructions, product information (including accessible feature information), documentation and technical support functionally equivalent to that provided to individuals without disabilities.
(d) Compatible: The term compatible shall mean compatible with peripheral devices and specialized customer premises equipment, and in compliance with the following provisions, as applicable:
(1) External electronic access to all information and control mechanisms. Information needed for the operation of products (including output, alerts, icons, online help, and documentation) shall be available in a standard electronic text format on a cross-industry standard port and all input to and control of a product shall allow for real-time operation by electronic text input into a cross-industry standard external port and in cross-industry standard format. The cross-industry standard port shall not require manipulation of a connector by the user.
(2) Connection point for external audio processing devices. Products providing auditory output shall provide the auditory signal at a standard signal level through an industry standard connector.
(3) TTY connectability. Products that provide a function allowing voice communication and which do not themselves provide a TTY functionality shall provide a standard non-acoustic connection point for TTYs. It shall also be possible for the user to easily turn any microphone on and off to allow the user to intermix speech with TTY use.
(4) TTY signal compatibility. Products, including those providing voice communication functionality, shall support use of all cross-manufacturer non-proprietary standard signals used by TTYs.
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