Flirt Using British Sign Language

British Sign Language Used Here sign. Educational video site VideoJug presently have 19 great videos teaching useful British Sign Language. How to sign your number from 1-100, The BSL Alphabet, How to talk about food, How to flirt and more. And yes, how to swear is included too.

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"Possibly the only game playable by blind 2-year olds"

Image of 'Here Comes The Duck!' from 7-128 Software. With a claim like "Possibly the only game playable by blind 2-year olds" I had to investigate 7-128 Software's "Here Comes The Duck".

John Bannick of 7-128 kindly allowed me to test out some of their accessible educational software. I started with their "Pizza Games Book (Baby Bear Edition)":

"Here Comes The Duck" is a simple cause-and-effect activity. You hit a switch and a random animal will appear, such as a Cow, Whale, Lion and some slightly more obscure creatures (to me in the UK) such as the Canada Goose. Most are clearly recognisable via some excellent sound samples. The loose game part comes from spotting the Duck as it zooms past at certain points.

The other games included build on the long-standing eductational strand of accessible software started with the OZNAKI Project in the 1970's. Some clear use of Maths and English with a simple interface. All the games have the facility to adjust the speed, font size and to have text spoken out loud.

I like what 7-128 are aiming at with their software suites. I did find the voice a bit hard to make out at times, especially when clashing with sound samples, or if you rushed it when adjusting game options. My main criticism is that the Baby Bear Edition doesn't have the facility for mouse use within the actual activities. Thus head-tracker, eye-tracker and switch users with an interface limited to the left-click won't be able to play. Hopefully this can be fixed in the future.

This all said, there's really nothing quite like the 7-128 project out there that I'm aware of. I highly recommend people with an interest take a good look.

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Mystic Mine - Up to 6 One-Switch Gamers

Mystic Mine - one-switch game from Koonsolo. Due out on February for PC, Mac and Linux Mystic Mine is a must buy for one-switch gamers with good tracking skills. Up to six players can compete in this thinking person's Hungry Hippos crossed with 19th century USA gold rush and an optical illusion.

Huge fun with some great accessibility options to slow game play down if needed and even use a complete one-switch accessible menu. Superb! Click the image above to learn more.

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Alt-Controls.com and AbleGamers Petition Sony

AltControls.com Established Accessible Gaming site AbleGamers.com and new-ish kids on the block Alt-Controls.com have teamed up to launch a laudable petition aimed squarely at Sony's PS3 division. They want support built in at a firm-ware level for reconfigurable controls.

The petition reads:

We, PS3 owners and the members of Alt-Controls.com & AbleGamers.com, request that customizable controller settings should be added to the PS3 firmware.

Right now controller layout options are rather limited in most of the games available for PS3. Left-handed players, accustomed using the left analog stick to aim and also disabled gamers with specific needs in the controller setup would benefit from such a feature. Even "regular players" could take advantage by remapping the buttons to their taste. Not to forget about the players who are used to the legacy control layout.

Technically this should be feasible. For example, PSP received this feature in the 3.95 firmware for the PSone games: "While playing
PSone games on your PSP, you can now customize how the buttons are assigned by going to [Controller Settings] > [Assign Buttons] and select [Custom]."

Please support the petition - and if you're this way Sony (and Microsoft) isn't it time to start making some positive moves instead of backward steps?

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Spotify

Image of 7 I dreamt of something like this as a kid and now it's real and free. Spotify is a UK only trial of the most amazing (and legal) music player yet. Search on any music by band or artist then click to play immediately with no waiting. Build your own play lists by a drag and drop method. Unbelievably brilliant!

Sign up whilst/if you can by jumping to the Guardian's post "Welcome to nirvana: the future of downloading".

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Colin McDonnell

Colin McDonnell playing a web-game using switches and a C-SID switch interface.
Colin's three head-switch and one hand switch set-up.
Colin playing Crash Bandicoot (I think) racing game on his PS2 using accessibility switches and his C-SID.
Colin stopping to pose inbetween playing Zelda with accessibility switches on his C-SID.

This made my Christmas:

"I am Colin McDonnell... You made me a C-SID for Christmas. You have made my Christmas, thank you very much, it is brilliant.

Now I can play on the playstation and gamecube / wii with my brothers and sisters.my favourite games are racing games, fighting games and I even go on Zelda with a little help from my sister.

To use the control I only really use my head I have 3 switches on my head rest and sometimes I have a 4th one on my tray depending on what game i'm playing."

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Tony Hart

Morph waves goodbye to his creator - Tony Hart. Following the death of Oliver Postgate, another British Children's TV giant has been lost within a couple of months: Tony Hart. I didn't realise that he started in 1964 with a program aimed at deaf and hearing children, "Vision On". What great memories he leaves behind for so many big kids.

Click the image above to see a fun clip of him creating firework art.

Accessible Cooking

Cooking.
Some ideas for including people in cooking:

www.symbolworld.org/eLive/index.htm - Simple pictorial recipes.


http://teachinglearnerswithmultipleneeds.blogspot.com/2009/07/visual-recipes.html - More pictorial recipes.

www.sclera.be/index.php?page=pictos&sort=cat&cat=14 - Kitchen Symbols.

usa.stockfood.com/ - Food photos.

Talking Tins: Record a spoken message, e.g. "Coffee Jar", then attach to it. Press a button to make it talk. Adapt for accessibility switches here.

Switch Activated Pouring Cup: Great way to pour liquids into a mixing bowl, or to pour out drinks and smoothies.

Click-on: For switch control of basic twist timer microwaves, can openers, food-mixers and more.

Mug Stirrer
 Battery Operated Auto-Stir Coffee Mug. Cup that can stir it's own contents on the press of a button.

Flour Sifter: Sift flour on the press of a button.

Food Hygiene: "Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities" blog links.

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Custom and Customising Wheelchairs

Customised (Pimped) Wheelchairs.Watching an old run of Pimp My Ride reminded me of a chance meeting I had in early 2003 (just pre-OneSwitch) at a small-business start up course. Here I met a homeless freelance artist, Kevin Cox, who showed me photos of the most amazing wheelchair spoke guard protectors he'd painted for his teenage son.

I advertised these for a short while but his phone soon went dead and I've never heard from him since. So in lieu of me doing anything useful around that idea - here's some good links:

Custom Wheels (expensive but very nice looking).
Custom Spoke Guards (aka Hub Caps - UK).
Custom Spoke Guards (aka Hub Caps - USA).
Rainbow Racer (Light Show on your wheels - should work okay on a wheelchair).
El Wire (Luminescent piping).
Pimp My Wheelchair (very professional bespoke jobs - not sure if still in business).
eBay then search on "Vinyl Sticker" or "Biker Stickers" or "Car Sticker".

Fourcross - Spinal Cord Injury Downhill Racing (bonkers YouTube video).
Accessible Trikes and Bikes Blog - Japanese Disabled Riders Association (great pics and vids).
Mountain Climbing - Darol Kubacz and others climb mountains in adapted wheelchairs.
Aaron Fotheringham - Wheelchair user doing a 360 degree flip at a skateboard park.

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1981 - The Year Zero of Accessible Gaming

1981 Year of Disabled Persons Some interesting information has turned up in TheGameReviews.com's "Truly Innovative Controllers For Disabled Gamers" article. Does it really cost $500,000 to "just to talk to [Microsoft] about creating a controller for their XBox platforms"? Frightening if so.

There's some historical background within the article including a little interview with Ken Yankelevitz of KY Enterprises who started adapting and creating specialised controllers after a call from Atari in 1981.

1981 seems to be the year zero in many ways for accessible gaming possibly linked with the UN's "International Year of Disabled Persons". More on the history of accessible gaming here and here within the IGDA's GASIG Blog.

Via: Tera-Kirk Blog

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Daisy Chain

Image of a flower daisy-chain - by masochismtango on Flickr. I've made a quick update to the D.I.Y. switch equipment area detailing daisy chaining. This allows you to control multiple devices using a single switch. For instance you can roll two or more electronic dice with one switch or control both flippers in a pinball game simultaneously with one switch.

For this you'll need a full-stereo 3.5mm 2 into 1 adapter and a 3.5mm patch lead (mono or stereo - both work fine). Maplin Electronics sell this adapter code: FP34M. Using the same 2 into 1 adapter, you can also plug two switches into one device.

NB: If you daisy chain two different types of switch socket together things may not function correctly. Life is never as simple as you might like! Basically try to stick to like for like switch accessible devices and you should be fine.

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Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear

Image of the book cover to Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear.My partner and I have just finished reading our daughter Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton. We all absolutely loved it. Use something like a FLIP Page Turner to make switch accessible. Here's a little excerpt from a darker section of the book:
"Cautiously Polly [our 9 year old hero] picked her way through the narrow lanes lit dimly by Victorian gas lamps that glowed a dismal orange through the swirling mists. The air was thick with salt and exotic spices, and the night was filled with a hundred terrible sounds - unearthly shrieks, breaking glass, and the cries of the naughty ladies echoing throught the alleyways: 'A penny for a kiss o' me ruby-red lips! An' tuppence for a feel o' me elbows!'

Beggars wailed and wept in the gutters, hair theives stood huddled outside the tattoo parlours and terrifying gangs of gossipers roamed the streets, talking about people behind their backs. 'Outta me way matey', growled a fierce looking sailor, shoving Polly rudely aside as he disappeared in through a crooked doorway. 'I wanna see this bear everyone's goin' on about.'"

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Arcade: Accessible Shooting Range

Wheelchair Accessible Shooting Range Arcade Game.

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The Mactini

Hope Springs: Episode 2

Money!

Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip.This made me grin - but please don't think OneSwitch is run like that! From Many Fingers in Many Pies blog.

Nanogames.com Updated

Image of four switch accessible games via NanoGames.The on-line resource of accessible games NanoGames.com is slowly transforming into something very special indeed. Tweaking game settings has become easier, the web-site has been beefed up with helpful information: things are looking impressive.

I was also pleased to see the on-line Dice make a come-back from the old Arcess.com site too. Regarding the main site, Dennis Asher had this to say:

"Still lots more planned (many more games, many more features) but I will get as much feedback as I can about the current version first."

Contact Dennis and NanoGames.com here.

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ATE Arcade: Atari VCS (Work in Progress)

1977 Image of an Atari VCS games console playing Outlaw on a 70's Colour TV surrounded by controllers and game boxes.Next on the long agenda for the ATE Arcade is the Atari VCS. I plan to break down use of the Stella emulator to the essential basics for beginners. I also intend to showcase how some well known games can be played as one-switch games and how to play some games using a head-tracker.

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Beginners Guide To Emulation

Image of the Green Hill Zone - start of the original Sonic the Hedgehog.Made a small update to the Beginners Guide To Emulation with a great new YouTube clip of Space Invaders being played using MAME Cheats and 4Noah Lite. In effect, this is Space Invaders played with one-switch, with auto-fire and the enemy invaders with their weapons disabled. Many thanks to William Pilgrim for that.

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ATE Arcade: RCA Studio II

Image of RCA Studio II game Space War. The ATE Arcade (Accessible Through Emulation) is slowly taking some shape. I've uploaded pages dedicated to one of the earliest games consoles, the RCA Studio II. Following the Beginners Guide To Emulation will take you back to the dawn of accessible gaming and to what is likely the first ever one-button game for a home video games console: "Space War" (1977).

Hopefully the ATE Arcade will teach the uninitiated how to make many games more accessible using a range of techniques. The slant will be towards reducing the amount of controls needed or in using alternative controllers to make previously inaccessible games can be made playable. It will also look at bringing as much of an arcade experience within reach of those who have previously been denied it.

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Happy 2009 World!

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