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CVAA accessibility rules come into effect for games as FCC waiver expires

Games released after the expiration date of December 31, 2018 have a set of new communication-focused rules to keep in mind to stay on the up-and-up with the FCC and dodge potential fines.

A waiver offering video games temporary exemption from the Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 has expired, meaning that games released after the expiration date of December 31, 2018 have a set of new communication-focused rules to keep in mind to stay on the up-and-up with the Federal Communications Commission and dodge potential fines.

The International Game Developers Association has already shared some information about how the CVAA will affect games released in 2019 and beyond, and the organization says it’s working on a more in-depth explainer as well.

The CVAA requires that communication functionality like in-game chat and the UI used to navigate and operate those elements must be accessible to people of varying sight, motor, speech, cognitive, and hearing ability. The requirements themselves are outlined in the full legislation, specifically in section 14.21. 

Though for an example of features the FCC is after, at the time of the final waiver extension the commission called out accessible communication options added to games like Splatoon 2 and Minecraft like smartphone apps or text-to-speech tools as steps in the right direction.

For the most part, any game released after December 31, 2018 is required to be CVAA compliant if those projects include communications features covered by the legislation unless development teams can make the argument that compliance is impossible given the “effort and expense needed to achieve accessibility at that point in the development stage.” This, as the IGDA points out, also extends to games that were released ahead of the deadline but still regularly receive substantial updates.

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