Welcome to the OBS guide

Notes

This guide is no longer being worked on and contains deprecated information relating to OBS Classic.

Open Broadcaster Software as referred to in the below guide is now called OBS Classic. The latest rebuild of the project is called OBS Studio and as of the current writing of this note this newer iteration does not have the same accessibility support as Classic. This notice will be removed if or hopefully when that changes.

A little background on the guide.

I've been using Open Broadcaster software for a while and I've seen many blind and visually impaired users have trouble or just be almost intimidated by the interface. Therefore, I'll try and give what tips I can here linking to information that I find useful etc. This won't probably turn into anything, might not even be expanded beyond this point, but we'll have to see.

This article is designed to help those wishing to stream games with the assistance of a screen reader, highlighting pitfalls and interesting quirks that might be encountered.

Things you'll need

A word about screen readers

OBS is one of those programs that requires a bit of getting used to. One of the most important things is that you can't actually right click in the boxes (for adding sources and such), you have to use mouse keys (NVDA+left Mouse to root the mouse cursor to the box, then right mouse to get into the menu, e.g. the source menu).

Speaking of the source menu, That's probably the only context menu you'll need to use. The program is, apart from the above minor inconvenience which is just that at best and irritating at worst, fine with NVDA.

Initial Setup

Once you've installed OBS (which is relatively straightforward if you've used pretty much any other windows installer), take a look around the window. You'll see that things can be navigated pretty much with tab, shift tab, and space/enter. If you want to set up OBS for streaming with a service like twitch, I'd recommend this guide, found on the twitch help page.

A couple of notes about this guide

It's not exactly up-to-date, from what I can gather. There are boxes missing in places where it says there should be boxes, and the networks tab isn't actually able to be altered, as far as I can tell. However, if you just work around those small quirks, the guide gives you all the information you should need.

Bitrates: The recommended bitrate is 3000 KBPS - around that at least. This is way too high for most people, even twitch partners. After I did some initial tests and reading on various forums and such, I discovered that around 1800 or so was good for my specific setup. I'd suggest tailing it back to around 1500/1600 kbps, and then seeing what results you get and running tests.

It's fairly obviously designed for people who aren't visually impaired (note the use of screenshots that don't have alt text), but it's easy enough to understand with a little patience. The settings dialog is activated by a button in the main window, which can be found by using the tab key. Alternatively, it's probably easier just to use shift+tab and go over to it.

I've never had a need for scenes in recording my gameplay, I just select a source I've added (by right clicking as explained above in the sources list and go to the global sources submenu.

If you want to add a global source for later use, you can go to the global sources button in the main OBS window and when the dialog appears, click add and follow the instructions.

(Note: game capture is generally reserved for applications, such as games running in services like Steam. Video capture is generally used for things like capture cards or other video devices.)

Don't feel like streaming just yet?

If you don't feel like streaming, you can always set your mode to output file only. This will save a local copy of the stream on your computer that you can then distribute how ever you wish.

Profiles

Profiles are designed so you can use multiple configurations (such as one for streaming at one frame rate and another for saving to a local file, perhaps at higher quality). If you want to make a new profile under settings/general, just change the name in the edit box and click add profile. Then adjust your settings from there to make, for example, a profile for capturing your games from windows.

When you feel like you want to stream

Once you feel ready for streaming, head over to twitch.tv.

From there, create an account by clicking sign up. As of the time of writing the account creation process is a little complicated, having a few little quirks. One such oddment is that you have to root your mouse into the date boxes, then arrow around. However, this could've been a glitch. Yet another possible glitch comes in the captcha area of things, where you seem to have to download the audio file just to get the sound to play. But results may vary.

Once you've got your account set up, use the latter parts of the aforementioned guide to get your stream key etc (you need to be logged in to access these features of course). However, if you stream and aren't logged in to twitch, OBS doesn't seem to care,it just streams for you, saving your a lot of extra hassle!

One last strange glitch that it's probably worth being aware of is that when you want to interact with stream chat, your browser window must be maximised to show the controls. Why is this the case? I have no idea. But after figuring it out in the first couple of days and thinking it might've been a screen reader specific issue, I was pleased to find it was easily solved.

Chatty

Chatty is a client for twitch that allows for numerous things including changing stream title and game name, interfacing with the twitch chat of any channel amongst other things. Built in Java, it works relatively well with NVDA, although a few minor quirks are present. You can find the download link, as well as the extensive documentation on this page. It is uncertain if this works with OBS Studio or not and until OBS Studio gets greater accessibility, this will not be able to be easily tested.

I will update this section if I find anything worthy of note to add.

Happy streaming and best of luck!

Return to the main reviews/guides home page