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Accessibly Streaming a Live Event to YouTube

It’s something that has not been commonly thought of as an accessible option for blind people but, believe it or not, a blind person can successfully stream a live event to a YouTube channel using a myriad of tools. This can be accomplished using either a Windows or Mac computer. However, for the sake of this article, I’ll be sticking to the Mac, since that’s what I used.

Background

A friend was looking for a way to broadcast her wedding live on YouTube without breaking the bank. Being the enterprising tech person that I am, I offered to give it a shot; because I would be there already and always love a good problem to solve. Then, I had some second thoughts. What if the angle was wrong? What if the audio didn’t work? I would be coming in to the hotel that day, with no idea of the ports on the sound board, and no clue whether the cables I had were the ones I would need. Nevertheless, I persevered.

The Set-up

I first began looking for an accessible streaming software for my Mac. As the most powerful laptop at my disposal, I needed to take full advantage of what it could offer. After doing a little digging, I stumbled across Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS). OBS, a free piece of software, offers the user the ability to turn their computer into a streamer for both audio and video. Many different inputs can be mixed together into a single feed that goes out to either a local recording or an online stream. The app isn’t amazingly accessible, but is useable with VoiceOver if you sit down and work with it. In many ways, it behaves similarly to the TeamTalk 5 client for the Mac. Sometimes, you must route the mouse to the buttons and then click it with the VoiceOver modifier, plus Shift and space.

For my input, I used a portable Behringer USB mixer, connected to my computer and to the venue’s sound board. I was lucky that the board had an RCA output, which was hooked up to my mixer through an adaptor and a 3.5 mm male to male cable into the mono input jack of my mixer.

Getting the video feed together was more of a challenge. Somehow, I needed to bring the feed from the camera of my iPhone 11 Pro into my computer and mix it with that fabulous audio coming from the mixer. This requires some work. There are, as those of us who have upgraded to Catalina will know, some permissions problems with the new OS that make some apps difficult, if not impossible to run. When using OBS’s built-in Window capture feature with QuickTime to try to capture the video, no video came across from the iPhone. So, back to the drawing board I went. I found a plug-in for OBS, accompanied by a $15.99 iOS app, which claimed to do what I needed. The app itself is mostly accessible, with some interesting button labels and focus problems, but it’s functional. The real issue became getting the plug-in to recognize that an iPhone was connected to the Mac. After closing and reopening the app on the iPhone, it finally recognized the device and I had a very nice looking video feed on my computer screen. This, combined with the audio I collected from earlier, the video went out to YouTube from OBS and created a seamless streaming experience. I would strongly recommend this setup for anyone looking for an inexpensive way to stream an event.