The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has released details on an act that aims to help gamers with disabilities. The CVAA (21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act 2010) legislation states that game developers in the US must make sure that new releases follow a certain criteria.
The CVAA mainly targets communication services such as voice, text, and video chat in games across all platforms. High level CVAA requires any communications functionality and navigation UI to be easily operable by people afflicted by a “wide range of conditions”. People suffering from blindness, color blindness, speech disorders, and other health impairments must be accounted for.
“The criteria must be considered from early in development, and people with disabilities must be involved in some capacity in the design or testing process,” reads IGDA’s statement.
Signed in 2010, CVAA is an old legislation. A series of waivers signed by gaming networks extended legal compliance date to December 31st 2018, which have now expired. All games released after this date must be fully compliant with the legislation. The requirements also extend to regularly updated games released before this date.
Failure to comply will generate customer complaints directed to the FCC. The FCC will then examine what “efforts have been made and how feasible the issue is to fix”. The customer has the right to extend the initial mediation period. Otherwise, “substantial fines” may be issued by the FCC.
As clarified by DualShockers, the new regulations only apply to games featuring communications mechanics and UI. This means that, for example, games using text or voice chat must include alternative communications systems to accommodate disabled users.
It’s hard to say how CVAA will affect the gaming industry in the long run. You can read the full requirements of the legislation here. IDGA says that we should expect a “a more in depth look” at what CVAA means in the future.