News from Northwest ADA Center – Idaho
Making Gaming Accessible to All
A car accident paralyzed Paul Lane when he was 22. Now 50, he plays football, builds cities, explores stage new worlds and even soars through outer space, all via video games, a passion of his since he was a child.
“My fingers don’t work, buy my lower-level quads and my wrists work, so I was able to cup the controller. Then I realized I can use my mouth and use my palm to manipulate the controller,” says Lane. The Southern California radio and TV broadcaster has also become an advocate for accessible gaming, working with hardware manufacturers and game publishers to create ways for people with disabilities to play.
AbleGamers, a nonprofit organization, estimates there are 46 million gamers in the U.S. with disabilities, ranging from paralysis and arthritis to vision and hearing problems. And that’s not even counting older people who may have some physical limitations but don’t identify themselves as having a disability.
For all such people, game developers are building accessibility features into their titles. Some are simple, like offering large subtitles to help with in-game dialogue or narration. In some cases, a player can slow down the pace of a game. Microsoft, make of Xbox, has created the Xbox Adaptive Controller. This device has oversized buttons that can be customized for a player with a disability. “We want to remove barriers to participation for as many individuals as possible,” says Brannon Zahand, a senior program manager at Microsoft. The impact can be profound. “I’m not able to walk, not able to do things I used to,” Lane says. “But the social aspect of gaming has helped me feel more independent.”
With the advent of streaming services for games, a person with a disability can test-drive a game to find out if it has a lack of customizing buttons, subtitles, colorblind options, etc without waiting weeks to be notified of an available accessibility patch or update. You can install, try and uninstall it without buying it first. And it doesn’t require a trip to the store. Servers with games include XBox Game Pass and PlayStation Now.
For more information about the ADA contact:
Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator
For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website: nwadacenter.org/idaho
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 7