A staggering 12% of people suffer from some form of hearing loss. While it is most commonly attributed to age, that only accounts for 28% of people that do suffer from some form of impairment.
Millions of people, both diagnosed and undiagnosed are affected by this life changing issue and the need for accessibility in the gaming industry is only to increase as the breadth of the gaming community increases.
This is why it is great to see Microsoft push not only for subtitling and captioning in their games, but in March they announced support for both American and British Sign Language in Forza Horizon 5
And now Microsoft have partnered with inclusive communications company Sorenson to bring ASL to the Xbox Gaming Channel on Twitch
“To me, accessible gaming, and accessible content in general, means that everybody should have the same experience no matter their situation.”
These words come from Sean McIntyre, whose career in entertainment has included helping to produce live events such as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and serving as a producer on G4’s Attack of the Show. He’s now the accessibility lead for Xbox Marketing and distribution lead for programming and events. “They should be able to take away what the person next to them does regardless of vision, hearing or language”
In addition to providing interpretations for approximately 25 hours of livestreams a week, the channel will include interviews with game developers, esports tournaments, event coverage, streamer takeovers and spotlights on independent games that never received captioning.Source: Hollywood Reporter
This will bring another element of gaming to an audience long left out of the conversation. While many games have subtitle and caption support, there is a large lack of sign language support and adding it not only to games but now to streaming media will only help gamers who need these basic accessibility steps to bring them into the fold.
For more detail on how Microsoft went about this, check out the in-depth piece from The Hollywood Reporter.