Witness the Fitness - Roots Manuva

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Manette pour console PS2 - Pour Un Enfant Handicapé Moteur - Bespoke controller.Trawling the net I found a couple of useful looking adapted controllers for the Playstation. If you're that way interested, step this way...

Workshop Solutions: Dual-Shock mount and alternative access to the shoulder buttons.
Papas Bricoleurs: Specialised controller for a child with very limited hand movement.

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Specially Adapted Toys and Games for Christmas

Image of Dream-Gamer Accessible Playstation Controller. Hat controller with switch interface and adapted JoyPad. AbilityNet are making a big push to promote accessible toys and games in the UK to those who may be unaware of them. Alongside Excitim, the creators of the Dream-Gamer (which I had the pleasure of helping a little with at the development stage), AbilityNet are now selling a lovely range of switch accessible gear.

I was planning to sell some of these items on-line myself, but hearing that AbilityNet are doing the same, I think I will make way and point people their way instead. Supporting the supporters as they say...

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Switch Lottery Number Picker

Switch Accessible Adapted Lottery Number Picker.
Couldn't resist this when I saw it in the shops - a Lucky Lottery Number Picker. Especially as a Lottery Number Generator was one of my earliest accessibility projects back in the 1990's.

This particular switch accessible adaptation is a one off I think, and suited best to people in the UK. Press a button to pick the type of Lottery (e.g. Thunderball, National Lottery, Euro Lottery etc.) then press the accessibility switch to pick your numbers. If you win millions from it - don't forget me!

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Stranger Hero 2 (PG) - Trailer

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Two New Accessible Gaming Blogs

Image of Captain James T. Kirk - Sorry Tera! There aren't a huge number of disabled gamers blogging out there (yet!), so it's great when two come along at once. Tera Kirk is a fine journalist at GameCritic.com posting upon accessible gaming issues. She has a blog there - Tera Kirk's Blog with her more personal blog at Sweet Perdition. Nice.

Secondly comes The Gaming Kitsune reviewing games from the perspective of a gamer using a highly specialised set-up. Both well written, and well worth your time.

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"For those without hands, there's Air Guitar Hero"

Image of Freddy Mercury playing air-guitar - well sort of. Following recent work making Guitar Hero accessible to the blind, Eelke Folmer has brought my attention Guitar Hero being set-up for Air-Guitar play. Well in reality - mind control over artificial arms for use by amputees new to this technology. Read more at IEEE Spectrum.

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KneeBouncers - One Switch Games for Toddlers

KneeBouncers image - of two cartoon characters in a cartoon police car all in primary colours.For toddlers with parents unafraid of sticky computer keyboards - Knee Bouncers is grand. Great for young kids starting out with switches too (set them to SPACE and they're away). Loads of fun zero pressure activities - and to be honest - pretty nice fun for big kids too.

If you've been to Knee Bouncers before, it's worth a renewed visit, as they've just undergone a big make over with lots new to discover.

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Playstation 3 - Switch Access Pod

The very talented Geoff Harbach of LEPMIS has just announced the PS3-SAP - a versatile switch interface for the Playstation 3. What marks this out from my C-SID switch interface, and most others, is that you can connect additional analogue controls and, I assume, wheelchair joysticks from the off.

It comes at a price, but I can certainly vouch for its quality. Geoff still produces a version for the PS2 if that's preferable. Available from QED in the UK.

Added to: The Accessible Gaming Shop.

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Inaccessible Instruments Will Become More Accessible

Image of a bonkers old Synthesiser with a jumbled mass of leads hanging all over it.Following a post over two years ago on a 'New Musical Instrument', I've been really encouraged by the progress made. There's a prototype - and it holds so much promise. Still not sure if I can say much more. Forget the picture above - and think more along the lines of any acoustic instrument made playable by all. Sound good?

Meanwhile, here's some fun on-line musical instruments/toys that may suit head-tracker and/or some switch use:

The Indian Shankar Drum Ganesh Machine.
L'Automachine.
Medieval Music Mixer.
Hyperactive Machine.
The Psychedelic Supperdubber Machine From Outer Space.

Virtual Drum Machines.

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Dream Gamer - Mini Joystick

Excitim / Dream-Technology Mini-Joystick for use with Games Consoles. Excitim sent me one of their mini-joysticks a while back to connect to their Dream-Gamer adapted joypads for games consoles. I'm really pleased to see that they've followed up on my suggestion to get the thumb-stick switch working. It's a really comfortable device and a great way for a gamer to separate out controls.

The retail price is £120 / €140 and should do the trick for a good number of gamers out there. Very nice indeed. I may well be selling these on-line in the near future. Watch this space.


Added to: The Accessible Gaming Shop.

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Adventure Gamers - Interview One Switch

Adventure Gamers logo - two intrepid explorers within a compass. Adventure Gamers interviewed me a while back and have just posted it up tying up with World Usability Day (the shame - I didn't even know it was). I'm very thankful for the support to the cause. Ta!

Here's some adventure based links with an accessibility slant:

http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/2/sd-adventure.htm
http://switchgaming.blogspot.com/search?q=adventure+games
http://www.collectingsmiles.com/news/hyena-v100/

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Ultra Sensory Room Gear

Ultra Sensory Room Gear. Bored of Bubble Tubes? Take a look at Jason Bruges Studio and HomeCinimod Studio for what may be next.

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Max Shooter - Xbox360 adapter

Image of black plastic controller adapter.I've just become aware of an alternative to the XFPS 360 adapters, being the "Max Shooter". Both of these adapters allow the huge array of Playstation 2 compatible controllers to be used on an Xbox 360. Great news as this one is a little bit cheaper, at £48.90 delivered from Amazon, although you'll still need an additional wired Xbox 360 original controller attached to get around Microsoft's disabling technology (and I mean that in all senses).

Added to the OneSwitch adapters page.

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NanoGames.com

Image of four switch accessible games via NanoGames. NanoGames.com plan to bring a lovely range of highly accessible and adjustable casual games to the world. Designer Dennis Asher has adapted a number of existing Flash games, and added a versatile accessibility layer.

At this early stage, there are five demos to try out free which will give you a real taste of what's to come. Spend some time tinkering with the options and you'll begin to see just how broad the vision is. I'll certainly be keeping a close eye.

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360 Magazine - "The Forgotten Gamers?"

360 Magazine front cover - issue 42 - featuring 'The Forgotten Gamers?' article on game accessibility. Alice Bonasia has written a fine six-page article on the state of game accessibility as represented by the Xbox 360 magazine - "360".

It opens: "As the games industry continues to look for that elusive 'Blue Ocean', is it actually missing a core gaming audience that not only enjoys games but also enjoys significant improvement in its quality of life because of them? 360 investigates gamers with disabilities and what's being done to incorporate them."

It closes: "It does seem strange, to say the least, that with all the talk of breaking into new markets and wooing new audiences to gaming, the industry steadfastly ignores a ready-made audience that asks for nothing more than to be able to play these games. Disabled gamers seem to be one of the last great untapped audiences, and leaving them behind could be, if nothing else, a very costly mistake".

Whet your appetite? Then support the supporters and order yourself a copy from Imagine Publishing. Alternatively if you're in the UK, they're on the shelves now at £2.95 a copy.

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Rock Band Raffle - AbleGamers

Accessible Rock BandFrom AbleGamers: "The great people over at Harmonix have sent us two "ROCK BAND - SPECIAL EDITION", one for Playstation 2, and one for XBOX 360 for us to use in our fund raising efforts for GDC [promoting accessibility at the Game Developers Conference 2009].

We are selling raffle tickets for each at the price of $10... We are only selling 50 tickets for EACH one, so there is a 1 in 50 chance to win (or more if you buy more). We will have the winner selected and sent out as close to Christmas as we can (We are shooting for Dec 15th)." More on the compo here.

Excitingly for me, Harmonix also sent some kit my way to see what I could do with it to make it more accessible. Now my daughter and her friends are at school (presently known as "The Rockettes") I've got a chance to pull it apart and see what's what.


Great from the off is that any accessibility switch with a 3.5mm plug (that's almost all these days) can be connected to act as the bass-drum foot-pedal. So if you can't use your feet - you may still be able to use any other part of your body to play.

The next brilliant thing is in it's compatibility with a PC through the USB sockets. I've had the Guitar playing riffs via the Guitar Shred Show and drums playing my own samples quite easily using JoyToKey. Following recent accessible music work with William Pilgrim, we've got something else in the pipe-line that will work with Rock Band controllers and/or accessibility switches. Coming soon...

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NeuroSwitch

Control Bionics - NeuroSwitch. For those unable to use traditional switches, Control Bionics may have the solution. Their NeuroSwitch picks up upon electrical impulses sent by the brain to muscles. Whether or not those muscles still respond - it's quite possible that the impulses are still sent. It's these that can give control over assistive technology via a standard switch interface.

I would imagine these could work brilliantly alongside an Eye Tracker. The cost however would be quite another thing.

Added to the Accessible Gaming Shop Switch Hardware area. Link via the ever excellent RNT Blog.

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symbaloo

symbaloo - France beta - image of a symbolic front-end browser to the internet. From my feedburner stats I found reference to Symbaloo. Turns out to be a very efficient and clearly laid out symbolic front-end to the internet. Being able to read French is beneficial but not essential. Would love to see this translated into other languages.

From Symbaloo I discovered a remakably good music search site, called Last.FM, which I've linked to within my Music Search Sites link.

Update: There are versions of symbaloo for a number of languages. Click on the spanner icon to adjust "your settings". Here's the UK and USA versions for a start.

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The Right To Be Silly - World Wide

Image of Ren and Stimpy cartoon characters in whacky pose.People are making their own switch adapted toys and gadgets all around the world. I love a translated quote from Guillaume De Matteo regarding the right to be silly. All kids have that right, surely?

NÚCLEO DE DESENVOLVIMENTO EM TECNOLOGIA ASSISTIVA E ACESSIBILIDADE (Brazil).

Yanous.com (France); Jean-Jacques Bayle (France); Icom (France).

ELECOK (Germany); ELECOK-Altdorf (Germany).

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Unique Custom Gaming Controllers - part 2

Image of a complex bespoke accessible controller set-up for the Playstation 3. Mark Felling of Broadened Horizons and "KitsuneNoYume" worked together to build a pretty marvellous bespoke controller to suit Kitsune's particular abilities, much as MERU did for Frankie in the previous post.

This fantastic work spread to the news portals of Kotaku. I can't say that I'm 100% impressed with the 'Handicapped PS3 Owner builds Frankenstein controller' heading - but the coverage this has garnered is a great thing. Now Sony - any chances of you lot doing anything for accessibility? Go on - you don't want to be last again do you?

Via: Playstation 3 forum - YouTube video here - Kitsune's Blog gaming blog here.

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Unique Custom Gaming Controllers

Danielle, Frankie's sister and carer, says: 'Frankie's ability to do things he enjoys has gradually been declining and for him to suddenly be enabled rather than disabled is like a miracle. Thank you so much. MERU and others have created some fantastic bespoke controllers for people needing unique solutions. This from their Summer 2008 newsletter:

"Nineteen-year-old Frankie has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive, muscle-wasting condition. As a result, he has severely limited mobility and this means he has to spend most of his time in bed.

During the few hours a day Frankie can spend in a chair, he enjoys playing on his Playstation. However his condition had progressed to the point where it had become impossible for him to use the conventional controller supplied with his console.

Cardiff University, near Frankie's home in Powys, Wales, tried to help by making a custom footswitch but his deteriorating condition meant that within a short time Frankie could no longer use it.

Although Wales is a long way outside MERU's usual area the charity became involved becuase no other organisation had the appropriate skills.

Over 17 months Project Leaders Graham Race and Hayley Smith made several visits to Wales and trialled different solutions.

Eventually they and volunteer engineers Adrian Fisher and Doug Sander devised and made a completely unique solution which would capture Frankie's movements, giving him full use of the Playstation's 18 controls.

It also has the flexibility to let a carer take over some of the functions if Frankie gets tired.

Frankie can now use his switches to play the games he loves."

Sadly Frankie recently died. Full respect to him, his family and MERU for what they strived for and achieved. Support MERU here.

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Creature Discomforts

Image of four different clay-modelled animated games - Creature Discomforts. It's not often you get to play as a disabled character from the off in a game. Leonard Cheshire Disability have something a little different with their Creature Discomforts games. The artwork is pretty fantastic it has to be said.

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Subscribe to the OneSwitch Blog

Image of the One Switch logo with RSS feed logo inside. I have made a small upgrade to the OneSwitch.org.uk Blog by adding two small icons to the right. These enable people to subscribe to the "RSS Feed" (Really Simple Syndication) pumped out by my blog - or even more simply - subscribe via e-mail alerts to new content. Alternatively - click on the large picture above to see more.

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Fundraising For SpecialEffect

Image of Special Effect and Retro Remakes banners below an image of a young boy delighted whilst using an Eye Tracker for the first time successfully.The following is taken directly from Retro Remakes a community of game programmers and huge long-term supporters of the accessible gaming movement:

"As you're all no doubt aware, we've dedicated a category to getting some games made to help out the SpecialEffect Games For Helen project. Well, that's not all we fancied doing for the cause.

As well as trying to get a bunch of games banged together, we figured we'd try and go the extra mile and raise some cold hard cash for Special Effect so that they can keep on doing the damn fine work that they do in making games more inclusive and getting more young people out there playing not just our games, but games as a whole.

Now, I know there's a credit crunch, times are hard, it's coming up to Christmas and all that - I also know that not everyone has a few quid to spare. We've set the target pretty low - £500. If enough people chuck in just a few pounds then we'll get there in no time. If you can't afford to donate, and I know that with all the best will in the world sometimes you just can't give - that's fine, no pressure whatsoever people. But if you can spread the word, tell people about it - make a blog post, pass it on, then it'll help us get to that £500 target in no time and I'll be eternally grateful.

We're going through JustGiving - it's the fastest and easiest way to get your cash to the charities and to get the GiftAid for UK donations sorted. Our page is here: http://www.justgiving.com/retroremakes - it's not very pretty, but it doesn't have to be, right?

It's open for 12 months so there's plenty of time to do this and in the very near future I'll be announcing this on the front page, there'll be links on all the competition pages too.

Here's that page again: http://www.justgiving.com/retroremakes

Thanks chaps and dig as deep as you can, spread the word wherever you can. We're all gamers here of one variety or another, lets help bring some games and some smiles to some kids faces."

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Shoot Your Mouth Off Films



Oh, these are just brilliant! Shoot Your Mouth Off Films "Dramas and documentaries made with by and for people with disabilities". Have a good sift through their YouTube channel to see the breadth of talent. I hear the next installment of "Stranger Hero" a kung-fu flick starring a "The Rock" look-a-like with down-syndrome is due soon. Fan-bloody-tastic.

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5th November - Guy Fawkes Night

Image of fireworks over a London Bridge - purple smoke difusing an old fashioned street light. In the UK it's Guy Fawkes Night / Bonfire Night. Here's a nice little Head-Tracker compatible activity: The Sonic Sweet Shop. It's a bit like controlling fireworks crossed with Close Encounters. I love the crackling gold elements - with very Matmos like microbeats.

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Other Blogs and Switch Stories

Image of a boring RSS feed icon. Web stuff. Here's some educational blogs I've been looking through lately that I wanted to share, some new, some old:

http://studentswithlearningdifficulties.blogspot.com
http://smdteacher.blogspot.com
http://teachingall.blogspot.com
http://dogtrax.edublogs.org
http://teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com

From these sites I discovered 101 things to do with a Talking Switch / Big-Mac and "Pete's Stuff" a slew of fun Power Point based stories that can be controlled using switches (e.g. one switch set to SPACE to step forward, with a second switch set to BACKSPACE to go back).

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Maximum Tune 3 - Made Wheelchair Accessible

Image of a Namco/Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 arcade racing game - with the seat removed and replaced with a wheelchair ramp. It seems the foot pedals have been replaced by a hand control. Following on from Atari's race game SF Rush 2049 which featured an accessibility feature for gamers unable to work the foot pedals comes an adapted "Maximum Tune 3" from Namco.

Namco are known in some circles for their Assisitive Technology and Rehabilitainment work. It's fantastic to see them carry this on with such a fun game. More please - oh and some accessibility switch sockets would be great next time too!

Via: Arcade Heroes and MSN Japan

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Mr. Fastfinger - One Switch Zen Guitar Hero

Image of Mr. Fastfinger - linked to 4Noah Shred One Switch adaptation. The Guitar Shred Show has been mentioned here before, a wonderful guitar tutorial with musical games. Normally you'd need most of the keyboard to play this (A-Z and 0-9) but thanks to William Pilgrim's tie up with One Switch you now just need the left mouse click.

By hooking up your accessibility switch to trigger the left mouse click, all the crazy riffs and licks become available to one switch musicians. Presently the practice and jam modes are available at the Mountain of the Tapping Dwarves. Enjoy yourselves!

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Tony-B Machine - One Switch Musical Sequncer

Image of the Tony-B Machine - An on-line musical sequencer.The Ideas area of OneSwitch is having a little musical update. First on your plate is the Tony-B Machine made one-switch accessible thanks to a new 4Noah PC utility written by the very talented William Pilgrim. It's huge fun and can be played alone or with a band of musicians / techno-tinkerers. And if you liked that...

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