Twitch announces a new accessibility feature is available for users that have visual impairments and want to access stream chats more easily.
While many companies offer live-streaming services, Twitch is arguably still the biggest name in the video game industry dedicated to hosting streamers. The most-watched game on Twitch this August was League of Legends with over 135 million hours, according to software developer StreamElements, and the top three categories on the site that month accumulated over 400 million hours alone. One good way to continue expanding an audience is to make services more accessible to everyone, and that’s exactly what Twitch is doing now.
Twitch has officially launched the ability for its users to adjust the font size that displays when using a stream’s chat on a web browser. This can be accessed by going into chat settings, and then the chat appearance subsection. Four different text sizes are provided, and users can also choose whether they want the text to be displayed in readable colors or if there should be timestamps on each line.
Variable text size is an important feature for those who have visual impairments so that assistive devices like screen magnifiers are not necessary, and games like God of War (2018) have been decried for using a small text at launch. According to Success Criterion 1.4.4 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a service of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that has been developing standards for online accessibility since 2008, text should be resizable up to 200 percent “without loss of content or functionality.”
Furthermore, accessibility guidelines published by Penn State University recommend default body text size should be no smaller than 9pt, with 12pt being “generally recommended.” Developers like Ubisoft have also added accessibility features such as scalable menus into their games. Twitch has an Accessibility Statement that cites the WCAG as its framework for improving standards, on top of garnering feedback from streamers with disabilities.
Twitch as a service does not have the strongest track record in terms of pleasing its content creators and audiences. However, implementing more accessibility features is undoubtedly a boon for everyone involved, so hopefully Twitch goes out of its way to do as much as possible to promote egalitarian web services.