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Why is game accessibility important for people with disabilities?

There are a variety of reasons to improve the accessibility of games. Some are related to the user’s quality of life, while others are more important to the publishers and developers of games.
Games can allow those who are disabled to learn new skills or can provided therapeutic benefits. By practicing movements as part of a game, players with mobility impairments can exercise muscles and joints.

- Persons with disabilities are integrated into and can participate in cultural activities on an equal basis.

- Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of their community, be they in urban or rural areas. Examples of such activities are dance, music, literature, theatre, plastic arts, painting and sculpture.  Particularly in developing countries, emphasis should be placed on traditional and contemporary art forms, such as puppetry, recitation and story-telling.

- Promote the accessibility to and availability of places for cultural performances and services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas and libraries, to persons with disabilities.

- Initiate the development and use of special technical arrangements to make literature, films and theatre accessible to persons with disabilities.”

“US regulations - Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities”. Rule 10 relates to accessibility”

Game Accessibility Top Ten

As games and consoles evolve, so do the accessibility needs associated with gaming. With this in mind, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Game Accessibility SIG, working along with the UK based non-profit Special Effect , updated top ten accessibility feature list to better address the needs of gamers.

The new feature list as the flowing:

1. Allow controller reconfiguration for improved comfort. 

Offer players freedom in repositioning controls (also known as remapping controls, or reconfiguring controls) to suit them and their possibly non-standard controller. Where relevant, allow adjustment of control sensitivity, y and x axis inversion and provide left-handed/south-paw modes. Ideally allow for a controller profile to be conveniently saved and accessed.

2. Provide alternative controller support.  

Do not limit the player to only using standard controllers or keyboards, or require a standard controller for use of your title. Seek to offer support for at least one alternative controller and/or simplified control scheme. Consider those unable to use traditional input methods such as joy-pads and microphones.

3.Offer sound alternatives.

Aim to convey the mood, meaning and information of your game’s sound for those unable to hear. Consider full subtitles/closed-captions and creative use of other feedback methods, such as visuals and vibration.

4. Provide separate volume controls for music, sound effects and dialogue where applicable. 

Being able to tailor volume levels can aid comprehension and comfort levels.

5. High visibility graphics.

Avoid or offer alternatives to small and/or indistinct fonts. Consider having a  high-contrast color scheme or making it available as an option if not default. Highlight important items to aid comprehension.

6. Color-blind friendly design. 

Understand that certain color combinations can prove impossible to distinguish for color-blind players. Seek to avoid these combinations (e.g. red on grey or green) and/or offer alternative ways to convey meaning than color alone. If unsure of your color selection, please reference a color chart that displays colors as a color blind person may see them.

7. Provide broad difficulty level and/or speed adjustment where applicable.

Realize that for some players there is no such thing as too easy. A very broad range of people can benefit from slower and easier versions of a game including sight-impaired players.

8. Offer practice, training, free-roaming and/or tutorial modes if applicable.

These can help with comprehension, controller adjustments, skill development, and also simply offer a fun way in for those struggling with the standard game.

9. Make menus as accessible as you can. 

Consider quick start modes, the importance of digital-input navigation and text alternatives such as text-to-speech and symbols.

10 List accessibility features and game requirements

Make efforts to ensure that this information is free and easy to obtain and understand. This information may be posted on a studio’s website or game packaging.

"IGDA Top Ten List – Layout by Tim Chase "

How can we provide accessibility in games?

One of the most important ways to understanding how to provide accessibility in games understands the different disables that gamers may have.

Gamers may experience difficulties in the area of vision, mobility, hearing or cognition. It is highly recommended that anyone interested in truly making accessible games to learn the why behind accessibility, not only the how. Information has been provided in each of these areas, as well as possible solutions or accessibility features that effects that area at the following links:


Source: International Game Developers Association (IGDA)

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