I’m pretty surprised other PC developers haven’t done this. Most text and informational things are already updated on screen so you don’t have to write special code to generate new text for most situations. It takes very little time, and if more people can potentially enjoy your game, there’s really no reason not to do it.
Mike Zaimont, Lab Zero Games
A screenreader is an external piece of software that reads out all text in an application. Although compatibility can be technically difficult to achieve, either this or self voicing are essential for use by players with little to no residual vision, and screen-reader support doesn’t carry the high production cost of self voicing recordings.
Many game mechanics aren’t suited to being made screenreader accessible, but anything text-based in particular is an ideal candidate. Often blind-accessible mainstream games can be achieved through a combination of a blind-friendly main mechanic, together with screenreader compatible menus. Skullgirls is a recent example of this. Being a fighting game, the gameplay itself is naturally blind-accessible, possible to play entirely through the good sound design. The menus have then been made accessible to screenreaders.
Generally screenreader support on PCs/Macs means interfacing with the OS level accessibility APIs, which can be complex. And also dependent on not using any of the popular engines, as engines output a single block of pixels, rather than the system UI elements that the screenreaders rely on being able to see. However Skullgirls implemented a simple workaround. When an interface element receives focus, the label of that element is outputted to the clipboard. With the right plugin, a screenreader is able to pick up and speak out all text sent to the clipboard, meaning the menus were then, at very little cost, self-voiced.
Screenreader support for mobile devices can be easier to achieve and is applicable to a wider variety of games, and is listed under ‘intermediate’.
Best practice example: Skullgirls
Best practice example: Demonstration of screenreader support in Skullgirls
More information: Building blind-accessible computer games