The CVAA & Video Game Accessibility

March 18, 2019 BY 3MEDIAWEB
Updated: October 23, 2023

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As of December 31, 2018, any video game communication functionality released in 2019 and beyond must be accessible to people with sight, motor, speech, cognitive, and hearing disabilities.

These requirements are outlined under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which was designed to ensure emerging technologies and communication channels are accessible to people with disabilities.

Video games are a massive industry. There are 2.5 billion gamers worldwide – 143 million live in the United States.

Last year, gamers spent a total of $100 billion video games worldwide – $30.4 billion was spent in the United States alone.


What Are the Requirements for Video Games?

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The CVAA “requires that communications functionality, like in-game chat, and the UI used to navigate and operate those elements must be accessible to people” with a wide variety of disabilities.

Video games must adhere to the performance objectives outlined in section 14.21. Accessible is defined to include functions that are operable; information that is available and easily accessible; usable functionalities; and compatibility with peripheral devices and specialized customer premises equipment.

Note: the CVAA only applies to video game chat functionality and not the actual gameplay.

What are the Exceptions?

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The CVAA stresses that accessibility should be considered throughout every stage of the development process.

Exceptions will be made if compliance is impossible because of resources and expenses at the time of development.

Note: games that are updated (including those released before December 31, 2018) must also comply with the requirements outlined by the CVAA.

Are there any Consequences for Failing to Comply?

Customers can bring forth an issue with compliance to the FCC. The FCC will then work with the company to come up with a fix. Customers are allowed to file complaints with the FCC if no satisfactory outcome is reached, although the customer will have to pay a fee to file the complaint.

A Step in the Right Direction

While the law doesn’t mention the accessibility of gameplay, this is an important step in the right direction.

54% of most frequent gamers say that they play video games to connect with friends; the communications interface is an important element of gameplay.

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This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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