The Fight for Accessibility

"Ian Hamilton is an accessibility specialist who co-directs the Gaming Accessibility Conference and consults with game companies over how to make their games more accessible. We talked to him about the small changes studios can make to make their games available to more people.

Learn more about Gaming Accessibility Conference:
Learn more about accessibility guidelines:"

Via the YouTube Noclip channel.

A screen shot of a team playing Lego Star Wars. Subtitles read "who were now just laughing and smiling and playing".


Global Game Jam 2018

Vectorised image of some concentric circles leading to the planet Earth with an infinity loop in yellow around it.

The latest Global Game Jam for 2018 (running between the 26th and 28th of January) is soon to start. Programmers entering can chose from a range of constraints ("diversifiers") to make their game within.

I am really pleased to see the idea of "One tap for all" make it through. I've seen this done in a number of redemption (prize) games, but rarely for a video game you can play at home. A few examples...

(One Press) Frogger: One single tap puts your frog into automatic hopping mode to hopefully cross the road and river to safety. Your reward is determined by how far you get.

Green illuminated button on a large ICE Frogger redemption game. One press to play.

(One Press) Chickens vs Foxes: One tap of the "release flock" button sets a group of chickens on a treacherous path. The hope is for at least some of them to make it from the top of the screen down to the bottom to safety.  It's a lot like a super-basic version of Lemmings. I'm not quite sure how well this one worked in practice, but I saw people really enjoying it.

The beauty of these game mechanics is that potentially anyone could play. Ideally, there should be a really clear link between you pressing the button and something happening. Really hope some people try this, and don't bury the game in any extraneous menus. Start, Play, Restart should all be via the same single control, ideally the SPACE BAR or tap anywhere on the screen.

Here's more on the accessibility constraints...


One tap for all - Create a game which can be played with one single well timed tap/click

I can see clearly now - The game has high contrast visuals, with a contrast ratio of at least 4.5 : 1 (contrast ratio checker)

Basics covered - All of the top four most commonly complained about accessibility issues are addressed: 1. Game has configurable controls 2. Any text is large and clear 3.Game does not rely on being able to hear 4. Game does not rely on being able to tell colours apart

Over to you - Give players options to configure a wide range of gameplay variables, such as speed and size

Let me see - Game has customisable colours, allowing players to change the aesthetics and contrast to their own preferences

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Avoiding Amazon

Five people each with a speech bubble above their heads. Amazon - Finding Life's Purpose.... We worked 80-hour weeks for three years... We had no vacations and little sleep.... Co-workers with kids or poor health were culled from the herd..... But it was all worth it!   Because we delivered a roll of duct tape to a customer in 26.8 minutes!

I'm not a fan of Amazon at all. Not least for all the tax dodging and sweat shop allegations that swirl around it. Here's some alternative on-line shops for books, DVDs and more....

The Book People, Blackwell'sFoylesWaterstones, WHSmiths, The Works (Books), Classic Movie Store: (DVDs) and and Sainsbury's (all sorts of shopping from the high-street on-line). More here.


Gakken WorldEye - Sensory Edition

Just added to the OneSwitch shop is a Gakken WorldEye with a simplified remote control with switch access. This mesmerising device allows you to display photos, videos or anything via an HDMI cable.

It's a brilliant sensory room / cool room device, and I don't really want to let it go. Ideal for experiential and cause and effect use with the switch / easy remote. Hopefully it will go to a good home.

Spherical monitor display for sensory effects. Big screen features a dolphin. Inset pictures show other underwater scenes.

Image of the planet Earth is displayed with a father figure controlling the remote.

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Voyager Golden Record: decoded images

It's an eerie and wonderful experience viewing the video above. Read more at Boing Boing. Maybe get a closer experience one day with A Light in Chorus.

Beautiful golden shallow cylinder about 12" across. Various etched diagrams.


Subtitles / Closed-Captions: 1985, 1997, 1998 and any excuses for 2018?

Screen show of corridor scene with a large skull painting with floating pointer. At the bottom of the screen reads "an annoying tone" subtitle in brackets, captioning the sound playing at that moment.

A couple of years back, Ian Hamilton collated an excellent guide, How to do Subtitles Well at Gamasutra. Although I don't agree with his definition of the difference between captions and subtitles (doesn't tally with my UK "888" Teletext experience where subtitles would commonly describe music, sounds, colour code speakers and denote if someone was off screen), that's not important...

...what is important is for people to have the option to have speech, sounds and music described in easy to digest text.

There are some interesting examples in gaming dating back to Atari's Gauntlet in 1985. Perhaps before. Activision added a patch to their game Zork Nemesis in 1997 for players unable to play through for lack of subtitles (see this news piece and grab the subtitles patch here).

In 1998 Zork: The Grand Inquisitor (pictured above) came supplied with closed captions / subtitles, although frustratingly, this wasn't announced on the box.

There doesn't seem to be too many excuses for not doing this well in gaming in 2018 where needed.

Overhead view of a pixelated dungeon, with a Warrior above the text "Treasure: 100 Points".

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Accessible fart machines and hand-less video game controllers | Holly Cohen

'Holly Cohen hacks toys and game systems so all kids can play them... She’s a co-founder of DIYAbility, a maker group that encourages children and their families to tweak toys, video games and tech for accessibility, using everyday materials and a sense of fun. (Yes, one design is a fart machine that works by remote control.)

“We build for what someone can do, not for what they can’t do,” she says. “We need to be the makers of our own solutions.”'

Link via: Richard Amm with thanks. Added to the OneSwitch DIY section.

DIY drill. Green with yellow trigger.


LDK (Switch) Adapted Toys

Lots of nice switch adapted toys and gadgets can be found at LDK Adapted Toys. They offer a good range of bits and bobs. Well worth a look.

Added to the OneSwitch shop.

Blue and yellow toy one-button adapted remote control car.

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Accessible Driving News

Recently had a chance to set-up a Simability accessible steering kit for SpecialEffect. Hugely impressive, putting analogue steering and braking all on one steering set-up. This allows for a high quality experience for those unable to use the pedals. It also can be played one-handed.

The Thrustmaster force feedback for the kit we used was brilliant, if perhaps a little strong in some games that don't allow you to turn it down. The bases we purchased were the T300 servo base for PS3/PS4/PC and a TX Servo base for PC/Xbox One, with Simability supplying the rest.

There's an alternative worth looking at linked to 2ArmDrive and adapting a Fanatec Universal Hub. Do check out the SpecialEffect post which has details on the brilliant accessibility options in Forza 7 for the Xbox One.

Lots more driving posts here including a link to the adapted Namco arcade machine below. Also a cheaper if no where near as good mod to add Xbox 360 thumb-sticks to a steering wheel.

Added to the Accessible Gaming Shop Various section.

Wheelchair accessible Namco racing arcade game.


2017: All Blogged One Switch Games



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