Disability group creates accessibility guide for devs

The AbleGamers Foundation, a non-profit advocacy group for gamers with disabilities, has published a lengthy accessibility guide to show developers and publishers how to include the proper options in games.

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An under-served portion of the community has another tool at its disposal today, thanks to a non-profit organization devoted to advocating for gamers with disabilities. The AbleGamers Foundation has published a 48-page accessibility guide designed to explain the options and control mechanisms required to make video games playable by disabled gamers.

The Includification guide (via Joystiq) addresses a few common questions, cites examples of accessible games, and outlines steps developers and publishers can take. It categorizes each disability (Mobility, Hearing, Visual) into three accessibility tiers. While it concedes that including the highest tier of accessibility options might be prohibitively expensive for developers, it argues that the first two should be easy for any developer to include.

The document states that there are 33 million disabled gamers in the United States alone, arguing that even including a single tier would be "well worth the cost" of development.

"For nearly a decade, our organization has been reaching out to developers convincing them they need to include accessibility for gamers with disabilities," said AbleGamers founder Mark Barlet. "As that message has been increasingly accepted in the video game industry, the question has slowly turned into "Okay, we need to make our games accessible, but how? We believe this document and its companion website will serve to answer any questions a developer might have about the solutions needed to make their games accessible to the disability community."

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  • reply
    September 14, 2012 4:45 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Disability group creates accessibility guide for devs.

    The AbleGamers Foundation, a non-profit advocacy group for gamers with disabilities, has published a lengthy accessibility guide to show developers and publishers how to include the proper options in games.

    • reply
      September 14, 2012 5:28 PM

      i just want color blind mode. not that hard to do. :(

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        September 14, 2012 8:57 PM

        Yeah, especially when being colour blind isn't exactly rare. :(

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        September 15, 2012 5:52 AM

        I have some red/green issues and sometimes I struggle :(

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        September 15, 2012 5:57 AM

        ^^ fuck yeah this..some studies say that as many as 1 in 8 men have a red/green deficiency

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      September 14, 2012 8:43 PM

      My requests are always the same - Full key remapping options, and dump button mashing QTEs

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        September 15, 2012 8:14 AM

        They should dump button mashing QTEs anyway because they aren't fun.

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      September 14, 2012 9:24 PM

      Awesome, I've really been hoping a group would do the legwork of documenting some of the techniques that can be used to accommodate those with disabilities. I'm going to contact them to see if there is some type of branding that can be used because as a small developer it would really help for gamers to know which of their standards my game has been certified for. Similar to the ESRB in a way.

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        September 15, 2012 5:24 AM

        Yup, devs are always looking for ways to stand out and having a rating similar to the ESRB would increase the adoption of disabled friendly options in games.

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      September 15, 2012 4:09 AM

      Things like colorblind mode, total configuration of the controls (this helps non disabled people too), and subtitles are easy to achieve and should be in every game but......

      In that list there are ridiculous things, if you see the checklist on the PDF.... they ask for:
      -- No precision needed
      -- Timing of movement/button pressing not important

      That essencially removes more than half of the games in the market, and will leave mostly turn based games alive.

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      September 15, 2012 5:29 AM

      I think everyone can get behind this considering most of the basic options would be things like subtitles, brightness/contrast controls and music/voice/sound effect volume amongst others can be useful for anyone really. Halo 3 and I think Reach had no sound options if I remember correctly.

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      September 15, 2012 5:54 AM

      thing that annoys me the most about being a partially deaf gamer is when knowing the script must have been written in some sort of word format doc or something similar but the game still has no subtitle options. :/. poor show indeed. assasins creed on pc im looking at you!

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      September 15, 2012 8:10 AM

      This is awesome. Good job, guys.

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      September 15, 2012 8:33 AM

      Some of these are a bit much:
      -- No button mashing
      -- No precision needed
      -- No mandatory quick time events
      -- Timing of movement/button pressing not important
      -- Game Assists
      -- Can play with only the mouse
      -- Can play with only the keyboard

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        September 15, 2012 8:42 AM

        The last two are a bit much possibly. Others would be easy enough to figure out with a bit of work on the devs part. I never tried it, but Bayonetta had that easy automatic mode, designed for people who really suck at those kind of games, and it simply did a lot of the more difficult stuff for you apparently.

        An extra mode like that designed for people who for whatever reason can't play the game normally wouldn't be too much of a stretch.

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        September 15, 2012 1:15 PM

        The QTE thing was done by a recent game. There was an option in the menu to disable them and it was great.

        Can't for the life of me remember which one though.

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      September 15, 2012 8:47 AM

      In the past two years my eyesight has gone to shit and now I'm considered legally blind. I can no longer play fast-paced FPS and other fast-paced games. Also I have a hard time reading UI elements if they're too small, a problem that is rampant with indie games. I've bought games that I couldn't play because I have a hard time seeing stuff. At least with Guild Wars 2 I could scale the UI to suit my needs. It'd be nice if more than just MMOs provided this ability.

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      September 15, 2012 4:57 PM

      No multi-player or achievements for "AbleGamers" mode in games?

      An alert/flag, so people know this mode was/is used?

      A segregation of "AbleGamers" users?

      Proof that you need to use this mode?

      I'm pretty sure most, if not all, of these issues I have questioned would not sit well with a lot of people.

      Due to the overwhelmingly social/competitive aspect of games nowadays, these need to be addressed... mainly due to people with a broken moral compass, but also, to stop players from becoming lazy.

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      September 16, 2012 12:40 AM

      I would have far more respect for organizations like this if they'd stop throwing around deceptive statistics. 33 million disabled gamers? Sounds impressive, but it's likely including every disability that doesn't affect gaming at all. I'm sure missing legs is going to impact you ability to get headshots. Improperly scaled charts also make me feel like you're lying to me.

      And proofread your crap! Even a quick spell check would catch a lot. Ack. Remember that people with poor understanding of English have an even harder time when things aren't spelled properly.

      Follow your own advice! Don't complain about fonts, and then have your letters at the bottom with words I can barely read.

      If an accessibility option makes sense, and is possible within the game go ahead, but many games will discriminate by their very nature. Video games are most often decided by skill or luck, and unfortunately many will lack skills needed to play them. Even perfectly able individuals may be unable to play games due to intentional difficulty designed into them.

      Imagine a fully accessible Super Meat Boy. Every level completable without quick reactions. Absurd.

      Do what you can, but don't let it destroy your creation.

      Accessibility options are great, but It's often difficult to get developers to include features that make games function properly to begin with :( .

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      September 17, 2012 6:23 AM

      The biggest problem is Microsoft. Seriously. Most developers I've talked to who have tried to put accessibility options in their games made them fail certification. For whatever reason, Microsoft feels that customizing the experience in any way causes confusion and must be avoided. Since the 360 is currently the lead platform, this problem is past along in ports as well.