October 22, 2016

Rolling Over Your Obstacles: Streaming With Disabilities [TwitchCon 2016 Panel]

Streaming with disabilities TwitchCon 2016

For the complete list of panels, check out the main TwitchCon 2016 panel recap post.

VoD link: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/93382504
Moderator: GoodTimesWithScar
Participants: DeafGamersTV (Aka Zero and Phoenix), Radderssgaming, Mackenseize, AccesibleGamer

  • What was your biggest obstacle when it came to streaming? How did you overcome your disability in order to start streaming?
    • Mackenseize: Biggest obstacle was fear. She wondered if people were going to accept her. She believes once you get into it, you should take baby steps. She realized the Twitch community can come together to celebrate different limitations. You can use gaming to escape with each other.
    • RadderssGaming: Biggest obstacle was the unpredictability of her illnesses. It’s difficult to keep a solid schedule and get over the initial feeling of guilt of letting people down. Especially when you delay streams or have to stop in the middle of them. Once you build up a really nice community, they can be very understanding. She notes that her community helped her overcome her guilt and fear. They don’t get upset and they come back every single time. They show her loads of support.
    • Phoenix: When he started with DeafGamersTv he really struggled with depression. He adds that after switching to Twitch from Justin.tv, he thought there could be a substantial deaf community. He wanted to work with developers to fix the audio accessibility for gamers. That’s why he wanted to set up a family on twitch. He wants to be successful in getting deaf gamers a home where they can work together and get accessibility for their needs.
    • Zero: His biggest obstacle is lack of motivation. He worries about the exposure of his channel. He ends up feeling like he doesn’t have enough support and that they don’t have enough support for deaf access in general.
    • AccessibleGamer: Also worried about not having a set schedule. He worries about expectations to be streaming consistently. He adds it’s hard to fit streaming into your medical schedule when you are disabled.
    • GoodTimesWithScar: He wants to echo what has been said about schedules. He had to set a schedule for himself no longer than 2 streams a week for 2 hours each. He tries to find the balance in trying not to over-do himself. If he pushed himself too far he would become more unhealthy and less likely to do what he loves doing.
  • How have you uniquely adapted your streaming setup to be more accessible for yourself and your viewers?
    • AccessibleGamer: He set up a notepad to help jot down a lot of things he would need for his stream including stream keys, bot commands, etc. It worked as a reminder for him so he could properly set up his stream.
    • Zero: For him, since he can’t speak or hear, he often uses Twitch chat to communicate. He also uses a webcam so deaf viewers can see him signing.
    • Phoenix: He started a project called thirty voice zero. It’s where you can stream without any voice. It kind of helps people understand how it feels to turn on a channel and not hear anything that’s going on. Allows a different point of view on what happens when you’re not hearing what’s happening on the screen. So you have to find another way to communicate on the stream if you’re not able to use a mic or voice over on the stream.
  • How does streaming affect your health, negatively or positively?
    • AccessibleGamer: Being able to reach out to a large group of people and having them listen to the things he says while also thinking they’re smart, is a positive. For negative, he has to worry about spending too much time in his chair.
    • Radderssgaming: Overall, good impact on health. Twitch makes it easier for her to socialize because she doesn’t get to leave the house often. It’s helped her connect with people with similar conditions that can understand what she’s going through. She added that negative impacts are a result of her own doing. It’s hard to stop streaming when she should for her health.
    • Mackenseize: Debilitating conditions can leave you feeling empty or especially give a lack of independence. She believes it’s something that pushes down self-worth. She says having a channel and building a community, it gives you that feeling of independence. It’s about proving to yourself that you are worth something even if you’re not physically or mentally 100%.
  • How have you used your channel to educate people on your disability?
    • Zero: Being disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do something. It changes how they approach things and it just makes that different. He wants to teach people the beauty of disability. When people say that you can’t do something or they feel like they can’t do anything, he wants to prove to them that they can. He thinks Twitch is the perfect place for it because you can set up your own family there.
    • RadderssGaming: She has panels below her video where she gives charity pages and descriptions of the conditions she is living with. If people wanna get to know her better and understand it, she’s always happy to talk about it on stream or talk about it off stream.
    • Mackenseize: Also has a lot of information below her stream and links to epilepsy awareness. She has given advice on what to do if someone is having a seizure. She’s also done charity streams where donations go towards the epilepsy foundation.
    • AccessibleGamer: His situation is different because he can’t use his hands or fingers. One big question he gets asked is what is on his head when he’s streaming. He uses a sip-and-puff mouse that’s attached to his headphones which allows him to left and right mouse click. He gets to explain his disabilities anytime someone asks about it. He always encourages questions and almost nothing is off limits for him to answer.
    • GoodTimesWithScar: He tries to put out good vibes with streaming and wants to let people know that their disabilities won’t stop them from doing things.
  • How do we show people how to get past their apprehensions of streaming?
    • AccessibleGamer: He says to turn liability into advantage. Use your disability to set yourself apart. Establish yourself as someone who is different.
    • Radderssgaming: At some point, you have to learn to own your illness. It will be inspiring to others to see you stream despite it.
    • Mackenseize: She says it’s okay to be afraid but don’t lose yourself in the fear. Don’t change because people are watching you, people want to see who you are. Don’t use your disability for sympathy, but to have people connect with you.
    • Phoenix: Anything that’s new can be scary but one day you will find your comfort zone. He adds that when you open up, little by little you will find confidence in yourself. Never be afraid to try something. There is nothing to lose. Gather the courage and do it.
    • Zero: He wants to add that using a camera was a turn off for him, he didn’t really like it. However, he wanted to use his sign language in order to connect with deaf people visually.
  • How do you explain your disability to your audience?
    • Phoenix: He thinks the word deaf can have negative connotations. Some deaf people can speak, others can’t. He wonders how to show people the different sides of being deaf and tries to do that on his stream. He wants to show people there are different ways to enjoy things even if you can’t hear them. He wants to spread deaf awareness because as a gamer it’s difficult to understand games when they don’t have subtitles. Ultimately wants people to know that being deaf and not having the ability to hear games doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy them. Wants to break down barriers so we can all enjoy games together.
    • Radderssgaming: The thing that works best for her is to just be fully open. She finds it easier to be fully honest.
    • Mackenseize: She tries to find the humor in her condition. Hence her name having “seize” in it. She’s had seizures on stream before and it’s pretty embarrassing. Sometimes she links past youtube videos of her having them when people ask questions about it.
    • AccessibleGamer: The best thing to do is to just answer the questions directly. He doesn’t mind educating people with what he goes through on a daily basis. Sometimes finds it even more enjoyable than the game itself. The conversation continues and that’s what he feels is most important. Not only important to just disabled people but to everyone.
    • GoodTimesWithScar: He likes to address his disability and then move on. Having a family member or a friend in chat is helpful to answer questions so you can pay attention to the game. Also, can rely on moderators and bots to inform people on his illness.
  • Where do we direct people for accessibility aids and things they can use for streaming?
    • AccessibleGamer: Currently the unfortunate thing is that companies who make controllers or input devices, they don’t design them for people with disabilities. He thinks Razer came out with left-handed mice but that seems to be the extent of hardware. He feels bad when people ask him about the technology he uses, he feels bad recommending where he’s gone. He’s spent just shy of a thousand dollars for his equipment which is from Broadened Horizons. He says, unfortunately, it’s durable medical equipment so it’s very expensive. He thinks the quad stick is awesome because it can be mounted in front of your face and you can use just your face and lips. Since those are created by one person, they cost $400 each. He thinks someone needs to take the first step to make cheaper products for disabled people. He notes that these products need to be more accessible and not hidden behind price walls.
  • What can Twitch do to be more welcoming to disabled streamers?
    • GoodTimesWithScar: Thinks there should be a resources area on the FAQ for disabled viewers and streamers.
    • Phoenix: Thinks a text to speech feature would be handy. They could type and people could hear what they need to say.
    • Zero: Some type of technology that could convert sign language to text would be cool.
  • What do game developers need to work on? How do we advocate for it?
    • AccessibleGamer: There is already a great set of game accessibility standards listed online. It divides disabilities into separate categories and then provides a list of game features that can be implemented if a game would like to be more accessible for people.
    • Phoenix: Need better captions because they’re not always accurate. We need a better system and a person to better do that. He says he wants to fundraise for an interpreting service.
    • DeafGamersTV note that it would be great to have a feature where a mod or someone could type out what is being said when they watch a stream via a window capture or something, so they can see in real-time what’s going on in the stream.
    • Mackenseize: It would be cool if Twitch could pay the mods in order to make this happen.
  • What has Twitch brought you? Any shout outs to organizations or games?
    • AccessibleGamer: Gives a shout out to EVE Online. It’s heavily mouse based, so he can play it a lot easier. He loves Atlas Reactor and thinks it can be a game changer for people who want to get into eSports.
    • Mackenseize: Loves Twitch for giving her family and a career. She loves Twitch and the community.
    • Radderssgaming: She feels it’s given her a community and loads of support from friends. It was there for her when life got difficult. The thought of Twitch becoming her career makes her very hopeful. She felt stuck with the life she has but she’s actually able to help people out and that’s because of Twitch. She loves Darkest Dungeon because it doesn’t need fast reaction times. It’s more mouse-based as well.
    • Phoenix: Twitch is like therapy for him. He made his own family and he feels like that gave him a lot. He wants to give back and share deaf culture. Also, wants to help charities like Able Gamers and One Up for Cancer. He thinks Twitch is an amazing avenue and loves being a part of it.
    • Zero: Twitch makes it a better place for deaf people especially with the accessibility features it already has.
  • Audience member: I have some disabilities of my own, it’s more mental. I know a lot of people with developmental disabilities. I’m wondering if streaming can help people like them. They’re also very isolated and don’t get out very much. Some people with autism and other conditions. Do you think streaming would be a good experience for them?
    • Mackenseize: Absolutely. She knows people with developmental disabilities that love Twitch and can socialize without feeling alone.
  • Audience member: How do you deal with negativity when it comes to the game or even your illness? How do you address those people?
    • Unnamed ASL translator: She handles negativity in one ear and out the other. They can post it but you don’t need to worry about it. Let the comment go and don’t let it interrupt your stream.
    • GoodTimesWithScar: He says don’t take things out of context. It may be a young viewer or a language barrier. Give the benefit of the doubt even if it comes off as rude. Sometimes it could be someone who didn’t phrase things correctly.
    • AccessibleGamer: He sometimes will stop everything he’s doing to call out people and wait for them to respond. Typically it will make people rephrase and think about what they’re saying. He feels the result usually ends with people learning something. He finds it’s sometimes better than ignoring.
    • Mackenseize: She says if someone is trolling and trying to push negativity on you, you don’t always want to react to that. They’re looking for a reaction and entertainment for whatever they’re doing. She doesn’t feel like you should give that to them.
    • Radderssgaming: Some comments are intentionally malicious so you should have a good moderation team that can take those out of chat for you. Someone who wants to be educated will listen so it’s important to decipher the situations. She says that there have been times where someone really just didn’t know and they have been turned into community members.
    • GoodTimesWithScar: It’s incredibly important to have a good moderation team.