Update [September 30, 2020]: Can I Play That reached out to Twitch for comment to find out if accessibility efforts are going to continue to be supported. A Twitch spokesperson has responded.
“Twitch is a place for everyone, no matter their interests, background, or ability, and we are deeply committed to accessibility and inclusive design. We work hard to deliver an accessible experience for our community through thoughtful product innovation, and through programs that celebrate our creators and employees of all abilities. We’re also continuing to learn and improve in this area. We introduced our company-wide Accessibility Statement in March 2020, and we will continue to learn, improve, and invest in accessibility in all of our work.“
It does seem as if Twitch plans to continue to support accessibility for its streaming service, however not much else in regards to how the company plans to move forward and roles have been revealed. The original story continues below.
Original Story [September 28, 2020]: Today, Dale Cruse, Principal Program Manager for Accessibility & Inclusive Design at Twitch has announced that he is no longer working at the Amazon-owned streaming giant. This potentially means that Twitch now has no one running accessibility behind-the-scenes. This news is certainly a worry for disabled viewers and creators, especially seeing as Mixer has recently shut its doors earlier this year, leaving the accessible streaming field rather bare.
In a Tweet, Dale announced, “I no longer work at Twitch.” He adds, “No matter how well intentioned, it’s possible to speak out too much. Hard lesson learned.” He also details that if anyone has questions regarding the accessibility program’s future, to reach out to the company rather than himself.
Dale started working at Twitch in October of last year and introduced Deque’s axe plugin behind-the-scenes. He also was able to achieve WCAG Level A product performance at the company in only three quarters.
He was also the co-founder of the company’s internal Access Ability Guild that was designed for Twitch employees with disabilities. There were also Empathy Sessions that saw disabled streamers being able to speak with the employees to detail experiences and issues that the streaming platform could fix or improve. He also introduced Twitch’s accessibility guidelines that you can read here.
Earlier this year, for Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020, Twitch put the spotlight on disabled streamers thanks to Dale’s involvement at the company. This day saw a blog post detailing how much work has been going on behind-the-scenes such as a captioner, and the above initiatives at the company as well as what things are in the works.
With Dale no longer working at Twitch, it’s unclear if anyone will be stepping in to fill the role, or if Twitch felt there was no need to continue with the initiatives or role. Either way, it certainly seems that the feeling to part ways was not mutual going by the wording of the tweet, and hopefully, this doesn’t stop Twitch’s advancement in providing an accessible experience for viewers and creators alike.