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Video Gaming Accessibility

Introduction

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].

Resources

7-128 Software

Reviews and rates the accessibility of games for people with visual disabilities and mobility impairments.

Website: www.7128.com External

Ability Powered

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

AbleGamers

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

Accessible Games

Provides standards from the AbleGamers Foundation for making games accessible to people with visual, physical, auditory, and cognitive disabilities.

Website: https://accessible.games External

AppleVis

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

AudioGames.net

Lists games that are accessible to people with visual impairments.

Website: www.audiogames.net External

Ben Heck

Modifies Xbox controllers so they can be used with one hand.

Website: www.benheck.com/single-handed-controllers/ External

Blind Gamers

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.

Website:www.spoonbillsoftware.com.au/ External

BrandonCole.net

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

Broadened Horizons

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.

Website:www.broadenedhorizons.com/products/ External

The Controller Project

Modifies game controllers to fit the unique needs of people with physical disabilities.

Website: http://thecontrollerproject.com External

D.A.G.E.R. System

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

Game Accessibility

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.

Website: http://game-accessibility.com/ External

Game Accessibility Guidelines

Offers examples and advice on how to structure video games for people with disabilities. Developed by gaming studios and academics.

Website: gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/ External

Game Box Controllers

Adapts PlayStation and Xbox game controllers and switches for people with severe disabilities who cannot operate a standard handheld device.

Website: www.rjcooper.com/game-controller/index.html External

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.

Website:http://gamingcontrollersforyou.com/ External

Geeky Gimp

Reviews games and game controllers for their accessibility; published by a woman with muscular dystrophy.

Website: http://geekygimp.com/about/ External

GMA Games

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

Ian Hamilton

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

Illegally Sighted

Reviews video games on YouTube for people with visual impairments. Provides hardware reviews, tutorials on how to use assistive technology, and product demos.

Website: www.youtube.com/user/IllegallySighted/videos External

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

OneSwitch

Offers ideas on ways to use adaptive switches to make gaming consoles more accessible.

Website: http://www.oneswitch.org.uk External

PCS Games

Lists and reviews iOS, PC, and online games for people with visual impairments.

Website: http://www.pcsgames.net External

SightlessKombat

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

Smash Clay

Audio engineer advises people who want to add audio to their games to make them accessible.

Website: http://smashclay.com/ External

SpecialEffect

British non-profit matches players with disabilities with adaptive gaming consoles.

Website: www.specialeffect.org.uk External

Titan One

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.

Website: www.consoletuner.com/products/titan-one/ External

Warfighter Engaged

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

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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

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Compiled by Christopher Corrigan, January 2017
Updated February 2018