Playing video games can boost creativity, improve problem-solving skills, and cultivate teamwork. People with disabilities, however, have limited opportunities to enjoy video games: those with visual challenges may not be able to participate in games that are rich in graphics, and those with mobility challenges may not be able to use a standard game controller.
Still, many resources are available for gamers with disabilities. Individuals and organizations have taken up the challenge of adapting or modifying controllers for people with disabilities. Computer programmers have developed audio games (or audio adaptations of games) that can be played by people who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, there are video game experts who publish accessibility reviews of new games.
Listed below are several of those resources. This list is not comprehensive. If you are aware of other resources on accessibility in gaming, please email [email protected].
Reviews and rates the accessibility of games for people with visual disabilities and mobility impairments.
Website: www.7128.com External
Features product reviews, articles, videos, and links to other resources for people with an interest in accessible gaming. Posts accessibility reviews of games before they are released to the public.
Website: www.abilitypowered.com External
Modifies and adapts controllers for gamers with disabilities and raises awareness of the importance of accessibility within the gaming community. Publishes articles on trends in accessible gaming and presents at gaming conferences. A nonprofit organization that does not charge for its services.
Website: www.ablegamers.org External
Provides standards from the AbleGamers Foundation for making games accessible to people with visual, physical, auditory, and cognitive disabilities.
Website: https://accessible.games External
Publishes accessibility reviews of iOS applications, including more than four hundred games, submitted by Apple users who are blind or visually impaired.
Website: www.applevis.com External
Lists games that are accessible to people with visual impairments.
Website: www.audiogames.net External
Modifies Xbox controllers so they can be used with one hand.
Shares nearly forty games for people with visual disabilities, developed by a retired computer programmer in Australia who has been creating accessible games since 2004.
Reviews the accessibility of games for people with visual disabilities. Offers sound demonstrations of games and links to other gaming resources for people with disabilities.
Website: www.brandoncole.net External
Sells independent-living products for people with disabilities, including game controllers and consoles with sip-n-puff inputs that allow users with severe mobility impairments to interact with the game environment.
The Controller Project
Modifies game controllers to fit the unique needs of people with physical disabilities.
Reviews video games and game controllers using a four-tier rating system to rank the accessibility of video games, Barrier Free being the highest. Annually honors one game with the Diamond Award for most accessible.
Website: http://dagersystem.com External
Reviews the accessibility of new video and computer games for users with specific disabilities. Informs game developers about the importance of making their games accessible.
Game Accessibility Guidelines
Offers examples and advice on how to structure video games for people with disabilities. Developed by gaming studios and academics.
Game Box Controllers
Adapts PlayStation and Xbox game controllers and switches for people with severe disabilities who cannot operate a standard handheld device.
Gaming Controllers for You
Reviews gaming controllers for a variety of users, including controllers adapted for people with disabilities. Also reviews switches that can be applied to controllers to give people with disabilities greater access.
Reviews games and game controllers for their accessibility; published by a woman with muscular dystrophy.
Website: http://geekygimp.com/about/ External
Designs and sells Windows-based computer games for people with visual disabilities. Some games offered for free.
Website: www.gmagames.com External
Help Kidz Learn
Lists games for people with mobility and learning disabilities, including games specifically to be used with the EyeGaze adaptive technology.
Website: www.helpkidzlearn.com/ External
Specializes in helping studios avoid excluding gamers with disabilities. Author collaborated with NLS to add and expand on resources in this publication.
Website: ian-hamilton.com External
Reviews video games on YouTube for people with visual impairments. Provides hardware reviews, tutorials on how to use assistive technology, and product demos.
International Game Developers Association: Game Accessibility Special Interest Group
Brings together developers with an interest in game accessibility, acts as a resource for them, and educates and collaborates with them to make more video games accessible.
Website: https://igda-gasig.org/ External
Offers ideas on ways to use adaptive switches to make gaming consoles more accessible.
Website: http://www.oneswitch.org.uk External
Lists and reviews iOS, PC, and online games for people with visual impairments.
Website: http://www.pcsgames.net External
Reviews the accessibility of video games for people with visual disabilities as part of a fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
Website: www.sightlesskombat.com External
Audio engineer advises people who want to add audio to their games to make them accessible.
Website: http://smashclay.com/ External
British non-profit matches players with disabilities with adaptive gaming consoles.
Website: www.specialeffect.org.uk External
Produces software that allows users (including those with limited functions in their extremities) to convert their game controllers into fully compatible game consoles without violating the warranty of the original controller.
Nonprofit, volunteer-operated organization modifies devices, including video game controllers, to meet the specific needs of military service members with disabilities.
Website: www.warfighterengaged.org External
Accessible games: Assistive gaming—puzzles, arcade and brain games reviews. (2015, March 4). Disabled World. Retrieved from www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/ External
Adaptive game controllers websites. (n.d.). Shriners Hospitals for Children. Retrieved from www.acpoc.org/assets/pdf/AdaptedGameControllers.pdf External [PDF: 18.11 KB /1p.]
BCAST. (2016, September 27). Technology enables veterans with disabilities opportunity to enjoy 360- degree virtual reality live broadcasts. Disabled World. Retrieved from www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/bcast.php External
Bolton, D. (2016, March 21). Why virtual reality could be a game changer for the disabled. Arc. Retrieved from https://arc.applause.com/2016/03/21/disabled-gamers-virtual-reality/ External
Chin, W. (2015). Around 92% of people with impairments play games despite difficulties. Game Accessibility. Retrieved from http://game-accessibility.com/documentation/around-92-of-people-with-impairments-play-games-despite-difficulties/ External
Conditt, J. (2016, October 14). Xbox Elite Controller opens up games to people with disabilities. Engadget. Retrieved from www.engadget.com/2016/10/14/xbox-elite-ablegamers-disabilities-controllers/ External
Couch, C. (n.d.). Listen Up: Taking the “Video” out of “Video Game”: Advances in technology are increasing accessibility for visually impaired game players, but it requires dedicated development and design decisions. Get in Media. Retrieved from http://getinmedia.com/articles/game-careers/listen-taking-video-out-video-game External
Feet operated game controller for upper-limb amputees. (2016, June 29). Disabled World. Retrieved from www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/gear.php External
Granshaw, L. (2017, January 4). Making games that are accessible to all isn’t as easy as you think. Playboy. Retrieved from www.playboy.com/articles/making-games-accessible-to-everyone-ablegamers External
Guidelines for building blind-accessible computer games (n.d.). Blind computer games. Retrieved from www.blindcomputergames.com/guidelines/guidelines.html External
Kaminsky, H. (2016, October 16). Xbox One Elite controller provides a better option for gamers with disabilities. Digital Trends. Retrieved from www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/xbox-one-elite-controller-disability-affordable-accessible/ External
Kingett, R. (2014, August 6). A look into developing Injustice’s accessibility mode. The Noobist. Retrieved from http://noobist.com/gaming/development-look-injustices-accessibility-mode/ External
Kraft, C. (2013, June 20). Building custom game controllers for people with physical disabilities. Hackaday. http://hackaday.com/2013/06/20/building-custom-game-controllers-for-people-with-physical-disabilities/ External
Making games accessible. (2017, January 27). Microsoft. Retrieved from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uwp/gaming/accessibility-for-games External
Making video games accessible: Business justifications and design considerations. (n.d.). Microsoft. https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ee415219(v=vs.85). External
Moss, R. (2014, April 30). Audio-only game Grail to the Thief puts a blind-accessible spin on old-school adventures. New Atlas. Retrieved from http://newatlas.com/grail-to-the-thief-blind-accessible-audio-adventure/31824/ External
Moss, R. (2014, August 3). Blind games: The next battleground in accessibility. Polygon. Retrieved from www.polygon.com/features/2013/8/6/4550490/blind-games-rock-vibe External
Moss, R. (2014, August 6). Why game accessibility matters. Polygon. www.polygon.com/features/2014/8/6/5886035/disabled-gamers-accessibility External
Musgrave, S. (2015, May 6). Blind gamers are embracing developers who have an eye for accessibility. TouchArcade. http://toucharcade.com/2015/05/06/blind-gamers-are-embracing-developers-who-have-an-eye-for-accessibility/ External
No visuals needed with blindfold games. (2017, Fall). HourGlass. Retrieved from http://georgialibraries.org/glass/newsletter/ External.
Red vs. green: Gaming with colour blindness. (2014, July 12). IGN. Retrieved from www.ign.com/articles/2014/07/14/50-shades-of-game-gaming-with-colour-blindness External
Ryan, A.J. (2017, January). Thoughts on accessibility with VR. AbleGamers. Retrieved from www.ablegamers.org/thoughts-on-accessibility-and-vr/ External
Straub, J. (2012, August 3). Game accessibility: What it is and why it matters. Game Informer. Retrieved from www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/08/03/game-accessibility-what-it-is-and-why-it-matters.aspx External
Starkey, D. (2014, October 10). One-button Bayonetta: Disabled gamers fight for inclusion. Engadget. Retrieved from www.engadget.com/2014/10/10/one-button-bayonetta-disabled-gamers-fight-for-inclusion/ External
Text-based viewer opens Second Life and other virtual worlds to disabled. (2015, June 11). Disabled World. Retrieved from https://www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/radegast.php External
Tullis, R. (2014, August 11). Blind player competes at Evolution, says, “If you’re playing me… don’t hold back.“ Event Hubs. Retrieved from www.eventhubs.com/news/2014/aug/11/blind-player-competes-evolution-says-if-youre-playing-me-dont-hold-back/ External
Top 25 web sites for gamers who are blind—2016. (n.d.). Simply Entertainment. Retrieved from www.7128.com/top25/topsitesblind.html External
Top 22 websites for gamers who are motion impaired. (n.d.). Simply Entertainment. Retrieved from www.7128.com/top25/topsitesmotionimpaired. External
Verdoorn, A. (2014). Gaming with the Oculus Rift for people with disabilities. Game Accessibility. Retrieved from http://game-accessibility.com/documentation/gaming-with-the-oculus-rift-for-people-with-disabilities/ External
Video gaming for with children with cerebral palsy. (2012, May 9). Disabled World. Retrieved from www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/cp-games.php External
Webber, J.E. (2014, April 30). Disabled gamers: Part of your world. Retrieved from www.kotaku.co.uk/2014/04/30/disabled-gamers-part-world External
WESC Foundation. (n.d.) Eyelander online: a therapeutic video game for vision rehabilitation. WESC Foundation. Retrieved from www.wescfoundation.ac.uk/what-we-do/research-and-development/eyelander-online/ External
Xbox 360 accessibility controller mods enhance gamer mobility. (2011, August 8). Disabled World. Retrieved from www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/xbox-360-controllers.php External
Compiled by Christopher Corrigan, January 2017
Updated February 2018