Yesterday’s update for Diablo IV has caused confusion and problems for screen reader users. The patch notes for the 1.1.0a update includes a single mention under accessibility. It states various improvements from an accessibility perspective. Primarily, it states, “many fixes to the Screen Reader where it failed to read specific elements”.
Sharing too little
While it is positive that the patch notes mention accessibility, there isn’t much information for the player. Especially when compared to the rest of the patch notes. Several issues are fixed in the screen reader, but it’s not clear where these fixes apply. Other accessibility improvements are not detailed at all. This means players who encountered issues, have no way of knowing if they have been addressed from these notes.
The fact that this was included to begin with is absolutely appreciated, but being vague forces blind gamers to first scan throughout the game for any new interactions with screen readers, then they have to make that information known to other blind Diablo players: it’s tedious.Ross Minor on Twitter
Sharing too much
Aside from the lacking patch notes, it is now clear that the fixes to the screen reader cause new issues for players. It turns out that the screen reader now reads out a lot more than is directly useful to some players. So much so that it makes it practically impossible to play.
After updating #DiabloIV my experience is ruined. Now, the screen reader keeps reading how much mana you and your party have. If I’m navigating in menus, I can’t read anything until mana is 100%. This is not cool. This must be optional, it’s super annoying. #accessibility”Victor Branco on Twitter
From the description in the patch notes we assume the current behavior is as originally intended. Reading out every bit of information however is overwhelming. As Victor Branco, low vision editor for Game Accessibility Nexus, mentions in his tweet, this should be optional. Not every player needs the same information and some information is available through existing sound cues. By making elements that the screen reader reads out optional, players can customize it to better match their needs.
It is a rare occasion when accessibility updates negatively affect players this much. We understand the developers are aware of the issues. Hopefully a fix will be available soon, along with more detailed accessibility related patch notes in the future.