By James Harley
Just like sports and movies, video games are a big part of the entertainment industry. For many people, video games are a way to connect with others, relieve stress, and have fun. With new adaptive technology, it’s now easier for people with disabilities to play video games and be as competitive as their counterparts without disabilities.
“It’s still in its infancy, but video game accessibility is gaining traction,” said Austin Scott, who helps run a monthly gaming group for The Bridge Adaptive Sports and Recreation.
“A lot of developers are starting to consult charities and people with disabilities to make their games more accessible, but there is still a long way to go.”
Scott hosts the monthly adaptive gaming evaluations at Velocity E-Sports at Newport on the Levee. At these sessions, people with physical disabilities can try out different adaptive controllers to see what works best for them.
But the fun doesn’t stop when the session is over, said Danny Meyer, executive director of The Bridge Adaptive Sports and Recreation.
Before people leave, they get instructions to set up the system or games at home. “Gaming is universal,” he said. “Anyone can play any game, and we can help set it up so you can play with someone across the country or in your own home.”
Xbox Adaptive Controller
The Xbox Adaptive controller has been on the market since 2018. This controller was designed for people with limited mobility in their hands. Players can connect different equipment—custom buttons, trigger inputs and other assistive devices—to control the game. It works with any Xbox console or Windows PC.
Sony Access Controller
Sony released its Access controller for the PlayStation 5 system in December. It features swappable buttons and stick caps to help with mobility needs, as well as an adjustable stick length for more comfort and control. The controller is wireless so you can place it in different positions to suit your needs, like wheelchair trays or other flat surfaces.
In addition to adaptive technology, most new games have a variety of accessibility features. These include voiceover, large text options and easier to control features. For example, you can set up the game to hold down the button instead of having to constantly push a button. You can find accessibility options in the game settings.
AbleGamers is a non-profit organization that offers one-on-one support to empower people with disabilities to experience gaming, grants for assistive technology, and collaborates with industry leaders to influence accessible game design and development. Their website, AbleGamers.org, has a knowledge base with how-to articles for different disabilities, games, and systems to help video game players.