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Accessibility matters

There are around a billion people across the world with a disability, including 13.9 million people in the UK. Research from Muscular Dystrophy UK found that one-in-three gamers have been forced to stop playing videogames due to their disability.

Lots of people, due to accident, injury or some other situation, come into disability later in life. Game accessibility is very important to them because it helps them hang onto some important element of who they are, explained former International Game Developers Association’s Game Accessibility Special Interest Group chairperson Tara Voelker. There are many stories, but Tara shared this one about a father and his son during an interview with Polygon:


“The son, who was probably a preteen, ran over to check out a demo while his father talked about the controllers with me,” Voelker says. “When I got to the one-handed controller, he became very interested and started talking with his hands, which had been in his pockets during the entire conversation up until this point. He had lost all of the fingers off one hand in some sort of work accident and kept his hand covered because of that.

“As I told him where to order the controller, he started to cry. He and his son had always played video games together. That was their thing. But after losing his fingers, he assumed he could never play anymore because he had issues holding the controller and using the trigger buttons. For this man, he had thought he lost something that he actually still had.”


Accessibility matters. Sometimes, simple changes as remapping the controllers can really help people with some sort of disability. Some companies such as Microsoft have been researching in the last times about new approaches to controllers that can make easier their use to disabled players. The result is the XBOX Adaptive Controller:

The Xbox Adaptive Controller

One of the charities that we are supporting over the year, SpecialEffect, has helped to create the amazing XBOX controller that is changing the reality of many people who love to play videogames. Also, they have shared recently the story of Tye. Due to an arm tremor as a result of a brain injury, reaching out to press the controllers was a very hard challenge to him. SpecialEffect therapists Jacob and Nomi suggested that an XBOX controller with the paddles remapped to the triggers and bumpers might help and indeed, it made a big difference. Small changes can completely change the situation for the better!

These are just two stories of the many ones that there are out there. Some people like that father that Voelker talked about and Tye have found the right doors to knock for obtaining information. However, there are many disabled people that love videogames and don’t know that solutions exist to their issues accessing their favourite titles. The answer is always to raise awareness around it and keep making the games industry more conscious about the importance that this has to the entire community.

Besides Special Effect, we have other charities that fight for filling the gap with accessibility and games: Lifelites and Everyone Can.

Accessibility is not something that only benefits disabled people, but also everyone in the games community. More accessible controllers, games and devices mean also better design and, consequently, more comfortable products for all of us.

Sources: Polygon, SpecialEffect