Please Bring Back On-line Boccia Channel 4

In 2012, in celebration of the London Paralympics, Channel 4 hosted Preloaded's amazing version of Boccia on-line. As brilliant and fun as it was to play, it did pose some controller barriers leaving quite a few people unable to play independently.

The game had eight keys in total including five essential game-play keys. For some users, including some real-life Boccia players, this was too many.

Thankfully, due to the brilliant JoyToKey, and some time supported by SpecialEffect, I found a way to reduce all the controls down to two-buttons. Sadly Channel 4 have sinced pulled this game, so there's no longer a very high quality Boccia game available to the best of my knowledge. Hope they reinstate it one day.

Just in-case C4 to bring it back, feel free to get in touch if you're interested in the system. You'll need a PC compatible joypad/joystick controller/switch interface. Button 1 is the action button, and Button 2 changes the action.

Boccia from Channel 4

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More Switch Accessible Cameras

Two superb videos from Enable Ireland above. Please see their superb entry on Accessible Photography here and their companion video on mounting tablets and phones to wheelchairs.

Cribbed from their YouTube videos are some links to the mounting solutions: Manfrotto Variable Friction Arm, Manfrotto clamp, RAM Small Camera Mounts, Go Pro Camera Mounts and Joby Gorilla Mount.

Something this says to me again, is how sorely iOS switch access needs the ability to navigate to a point, and allow the user to repeatedly activate a tap (or other gesture) on that point. This would enable users to take lots of photos with an external switch with minimal hassle. Great for many types of users.


4Noah 2014: Gaming Redux

The rough video above shows how it's possible to reduce the number of controls needed to play a game. In this instance, four controls have been reduced down to a single button/switch.

Using a switch interface on a PC running the latest 4Noah utility alongside MaxAim, all kind of things are possible.

With Peggle, one-switch works as follows: Tap to change the aiming angle (left - stop - right - stop). Hold for a couple of seconds then release toggles between fine aiming and fast aiming. Double-tapping fires the ball. I feel a Gaming Redux section coming together.

Peggle screen shot.

MaxAim: Xbox 360 set-up.

4Noah graphical display.

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Switch Viacam

Free to use on PCs, is the very natty Switch Viacam. It enables two switches to be mapped in thin-air. Imagine a webcam displaying a live image of whatever it's pointing at, where you can map out one or two boxes within that space. If anything passes through those boxes, or moves within them, a switch function is activated, such as an emulated left-click.

It works very well for some activities, although sadly not on games consoles through a Cronus Max. This is a brilliant idea, much like the OAK Air Switch, and free is my favourite price.

Created by the talented Cesar Mauri Loba and the APPC of Tarragona, see also the webcam based head-tracker with dwell clicking: Enable Viacam, and Cause and Effect fun with SITPLUS.

Many thanks to Will Wade and Gillian Taylor of SpecialEffect for this info. Added to the Accessible Gaming Shop switch  and software sections.

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PC and Mac Switch Accessible Menu Ideas

BBC Micro Switch Accessible programmes. 1995, 2000 Thurrock Care. Menu options include Yes, No and Dice. A Talk Type Work processor, a Number Generator and National Lottery programme, Biorhythms, a Musical Keyboard and HELP! and credits.

Here's a suggestion for making a switch accessible menu for a PC/Mac application/game, expanding upon my ancient system for a BBC Micro in the days when I used to programme a little bit.

1. Switch One (choose/select) = SPACE BAR, ENTER key and LEFT-CLICK.
2. Switch Two (move selector) = TAB and any key from A-Z.

Access methods: Allow access via one-switch, two-switch, keyboard methods. Ideally by mouse pointer too. Ensure joystick access is possible through JoyToKey. Some switch interfaces use adapted joypads.

Starting: Start the system using one-switch step scanning, that slowly steps through the available opening options. If the user manually moves the selector using switch two, then stop auto-step scanning. If the user taps the ESCAPE key once at the front menu screen, restart auto-step scanning. 

Exiting by keyboard: If at the front-menu in auto-scan mode and ESCAPE is pressed, quit everything. Otherwise ESCAPE should be a method to step backwards towards the main menu. 

Exiting by switch: Think about the needs of significantly learning disabled switch users versus the needs of the most able switch users. Ideally, give the most able one/two switch user a way to navigate all menus freely, and a way to quit the main switch accessible game/application too. This may be via a user-defined long-hold (not all can do this),  or morse-like taps, configurable from an options screen. Consider accidental triggering of this with a "are you sure you want to quit?" option. Very importantly, consider that all menus are a confusing distraction for the most learning disabled users. If you give an option to disable switch exiting from the main game/application, enabling the user to just keep playing until they become bored/want to do something else, you'll empower them too.

Speed adjustment: Give a way for the speed of the scanning to be adjusted from the keyboard (e.g. UP/DOWN cursor, or +, - keys) and also from a HELP! / Options system that is accessible using any of the access methods above. Use sounds and an indicator 

Quick access to menus: Numbering menu items, and making them accessible by that corresponding number (e.g. press key "3" to go straight to the Number Generator) can help general access for keyboard users.

Remember settings: For a single user, from the HELP/Options screen allow them to save their switch/scanning settings from a simple "SAVE these settings?" option. Consider a profile system for multiple-users.

Boosting access for those who cannot read English: Consider adding icons and/or speech options on each menu option, such as the common spanner/cog icon for options. Avoid complexity on the surface level options.

If you want to explore my old system (not perfect, but very usable) you'll need the BeebEm emulator, the EDU7 disk image and to press SHIFT then BREAK to boot the game in.

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Switch Accessible Camera: Kiddi Zoom Twist Plus

Kiddizoom Twist Plus, switch adapted for use with accessibility switch. (Pink camera and yellow switch). Front view of camera.

Kiddizoom Twist Plus, switch adapted for use with accessibility switch. (Pink camera and yellow switch). Rear view of camera.

Kiddizoom Twist Plus, switch adapted for use with accessibility switch. (Pink camera and yellow switch). Overhead tilted view including the switch socket on the top of the right-side grip.

I've recently adapted a Kiddi Zoom camera from Argos and it works great. It's a 2.0 megapixel camera, with adjustable lens (point it across 180 degrees front to back. Loads of amusing effects and extras can be found via the additional controls. There's no half-press to focus. Point and click using the attached switch and you're away.

Comes in Blue or Pink. Pictures are downloadable via a USB cable, and there's no camera mount screw, so you may need some copious use of velcro or other method to mount. It does have side attachments for string, that could be useful in this.

If you're interested in purchasing one (c. £90 delivered in the UK), feel free to get in touch to find out more. If you'd like to adapt one yourself, it's almost the same as the guide for the older Kidi Zoom camera. The main difference is that this time I used some SUGRU to mount the switch socket in a more upright position.

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Activision: The Joy of Killing (18+)

Not a fan of empty-soul games such as Activision's Call of Duty, even less so them being advertised on TV at 8:15am in the morning when any kid can flick onto them and soak up the bile. The glorification of war, big-guns and killing. Stupid. stupid.


On-line LEGO one-switch games

LEGO Gas Station / Petrol Station... One-button, one-switch game.

LEGO Princess... One-button, one-switch game.

 LEGO Monster Truck... One-button, one-switch game.

 LEGO Fire Truck... One-button, one-switch game.

Who knows how long these will stay up on-line, but for the time-being here's four highly accessible one-switch games with a LEGO theme.

Via Gav Tan at SpecialEffect

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Road to Nowhere

VW Driving Simulator using an oscilloscope


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