ATE Arcade: Future Pinball

Image of Bally Xenon pinball machine in the virtual game room of Future Pinball. Through lots of coughing and a nasty bug, I've had time to set up a couple of pages on Accessible Pinball. Future Pinball is a superb construction tool that allows you to play some fantastic games of pinball. More than that, it allows you to adapt existing tables to improve their accessibility and even build your own from scratch.

Bill Donegan of Special Effect has done just that with the Roadshow Challenge prototype table. I've been tinkering with a couple of other tables to make one-switch accessible. All are available to download with more to come.

ATE Arcade pages:
Future Pinball Emulator and Accessible Games.

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ATE Arcade: Atari VCS

1977 Image of an Atari VCS games console playing Outlaw on a 70's Colour TV surrounded by controllers and game boxes.Well that wasn't quick but the ATE Arcade finally has some guidance on how to emulate the Atari VCS and details of some of the most accessible games.

Just like Chess and many card games, some old video games will always retain their appeal. I especially still like Canyon Bomber and Bowling. I can imagine a pair of competitive one-switch gamers still getting fun from the likes of Outlaw too.

Next? The Megadrive/Genesis made more accessible - then Future Pinball with a tie up with Special Effect. There's a long road ahead...

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Widgit Point - Turn the Web into Symbols

Screenshot of Widgit's Point in action."Point" is a new on-line web resource from Widgit for making web-content accessible to those who read using symbols. It's so new that there's no details on cost, and it looks like you'll need some web-skills to get this up and running. Looks extremely promising.

AbilityNet have been the first to adopt Point, which you can browse to your heart's content at www.abilitynet.org.uk/easy/.

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Adding Analogue Controls - updated

Image of an analogue joystick, boxed and surrounded by four mounted digital buttons. Geoff Harbach has updated his excellent guide to adding analogue controls to his PS3-SAP. It also serves as a useful guide for new comers to analogue controls. Good work.

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Switch Accessible Digital Cameras

Image of an old Polaroid 1000 instant camera - not accessibility switch accessible.The availability of switch adapted Digital Cameras seems to ebb and flow. Here's an up to date list for a day...

1. QED Ltd - presently are selling switch adapted digital cameras (UK).
2. RJ Cooper - have an adapted digital camera and Flip video camera (USA).
3. Tecsol - sell an adapted Pentax camera (AUS).

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Switch Poser

RJ Cooper switch poser. Image of a bright red push button mounted by velcro onto an angle-poise mount fixed by a rubber sucker foot.
RJ Cooper has recently released an excellent method of mounting accessibility switches for some with his Switch Poser. It's inexpensive and looks the part. Added to the Accessible Gaming Shop's mounting solutions section.

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Switch Football vs. Switch Soccer



There's been a recent boost in one-switch playable sports games coming to light recently which can only be a good thing. Virtual Voices Village have kindly allowed me to host the file for "Switch Soccer" so that people can play this full-screen and off-line (within a browser).

The video above is of a great little project by William Pilgrim inspired by Switch Soccer - this time called Switch Football. Hopefully William will find time to add some tweaks to this to give it some easier play options as it's a bit tough at the minute for many switch users. Any suggestions then please send them our way.

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Video Game Accessibility: The 1970's

Image of Nutting Associate's 1971 Computer Space game in 1P and 2P iterations. AbleGamers have uploaded my first article for them: A Brief History of Video Game Accessibility: The 1970's. Starting with 1971's Computer Space this article is a trek through the very origins of game accessibility. "Can you dig it?".

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Muscle Marble Madness

Muscle Sensor - VR Meets Physical Therapy - Image of a disabled man playing Marble Madness using muscle sensors. This photo shows an adapted SEGA Megadrive/Genesis controller rigged up to be played with muscle sensors for rehabilitation (and fun) in the mid 1990's. Marble Madness is a brilliant old Atari game originally designed to be played with a track-ball alone. Playing using muscle twitches must have been a tough way to play but better than no way to play.

You can learn about the latest developments in game rehabilitation by visiting the Games for Health web-site. Their yearly conference is due soon in the USA for June the 11th and 12th with a Games Accessibility Day set for the 10th.

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Mouse Movements

Image of Early Mouse Movements - art software.
Early Mouse Movements is a very simple art package from Help Kidz Learn. Move the pointer over one of the colour pots then move back onto the virtual paper to paint. A nice tool for those trying to get the hang of a head-tracker, and even for those using one-switch tools that give control over the mouse pointer.

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One Switch Curling

Image of New Age Kurling. Inclusive Technology have just released a cracking little one-switch sports game called "New Age Kurling". The sport really lends itself well to one-switch play and is a first to the best of my knowledge. Head tracker users might like to try Virtual Curling as an alternative.

The only issue I have is that as a two-player game where players have to share the same input (SPACE or LEFT MOUSE CLICK) there is a lot of potential for unwanted presses spoiling play. These could come from moving a switch from one position to another and it being accidentally activated. Worse still, cheating would be quite easy ("whoops, sorry I didn't mean to take your go , snigger").

One potential solution would be to offer two different input methods (e.g. player one uses the space bar/left-mouse click and player two use the RETURN key/right-mouse click). A second solution would be to feature a virtual padlock for the switch. Once you'd played, you'd have to press another key (e.g. BACKSPACE) before the switch could be used again.

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Have You Seen This Cat?

Skallagrigg (1994) on YouTube

Skallagrigg blurb from inside sleeve of the first run of books in 1987. Click for a larger image. I first read Skallagrigg by William Horwood over 15 years ago and it's had a lasting effect on me ever since. It's a wonderful book, which although dated now by some of the disability terms used (published 1987), I recommend to anyone. Chapter 26 is especially fascinating from a game accessibility point of view where the lead character, Esther, discovers Pong in 1980 and sees for the first time the possibilities technology might hold if only she could better control it.

In 1994 the BBC created a television drama that featured a broad cast of disabled actors, something that's still a rarity today. It's not a patch on the book and misses huge chunks out, however, it's available for you to make your own mind up on at the Skallagrigg09 YouTube Channel for the moment.

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One Minute Wonders

BBC One Minute Wonders "Did you know you can play BBC's One Minute Wonder Videos with play with one switch randomly? Set the mouse arrow over the lever just where that red arrow points in the picture. You will need to press play on the video screen the first time with your mouse and them replace the mouse to the lever. After that your switch set to 'mouse click' will change the video to a new one randomly. Very fun on the 'big screen' (LDC projector or SMART board)."

Pinched from the ever splendid TLWMSN Blog. Thanks Kate. I found Show 2's "Laughing Club" held a particularly fascinating statistic. That children laugh on average 400 times a day and adults just 15 times.

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Space Walk

Black and White Space Walk

The Skoog and Quincy Jones

Sweet flute sounds courtesy of the Skoog above. From the development pot should come the facility to perform similar music using a single surface alone. This will allow musicians to step through a preset arrangement of notes holding notes for as long as they like and adding expression. Nice!

You can follow the latest Skoog news on Twitter now as well as at the Skoogmusic homepage.

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No Limit Pad

No Limit Pad Pad Fynder Interactive from Italy are about to enter the field of accessible gaming controllers with their unique No Limit Pad for PS3 and PC.

First impressions deceive with this controller. In their video you see that it's quite possible to play in a comfortable looking way thanks to a hand strap. With a claimed 11 different control configurations, motion control compatibility and a price of 95 Euros (use www.xe.com for a currency conversion) this is looking like a really good option.

I'm off to add this to the Accessible Gaming Shop's one-handed controllers section right now.

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Canon Communicator (1981)

Image of a Canon Communicator advert from 1981.Canon Communicator advert from 1981: "Hello my name is Mary Jo". How things have changed and yet stayed the same in nearly 30 years...

"I AM 12 YEARS OLD. AND HAVE CEREBRAL PALSY. BECAUSE OF MY HANDICAP. I HAVE NO VOICE AND ONLY LIMITED USE OF MY HANDS. WHICH MADE IT PAINFUL TO WRITE. UNTIL I BEGAN USING THE CANON COMMUNICATOR. NOW I CAN ASK QUESTIONS. TALK TO MY FAMILY. DO MY SCHOOLWORK. ALL ON CLEAR EASY TO READ TAPE YOU SEE HERE. WHAT I HAVE TO SAY MAY NOT ALWAYS BE IMPORTANT. BUT THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOW I CAN SAY IT."

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Switch Accessible Digital Cameras



Switch access for top-notch digital cameras? It seems that the Canon EOS camera range can be controlled via a remote wired switch. It uses an attachment very similar to those used by accessibility switches, with my guess being that it's a 2.5mm stereo plug connector.

In theory it should be possible to knock up a simple adaptation for accessibility switch compatibility. I've contacted Canon who I hope will get back to me shortly.

Meanwhile you can find more on switch accessible cameras here.

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Squid Yes! Octopus Not So!

Image of the one-switch playable arena shooter - Squid Yes! Octopus Not So! Perhaps the most frenetic one-switch game that has ever been written is "Squid Yes! Octopus Not So!" from Bag Full of Wrong. This is an utterly bonkers shoot-em-up inspired by Williams classic "Robotron: 2084" which alongside Defender marked the dawning of games with extremely demanding control schemes and game play.

Thanks to a brand new William Pilgrim 4Noah utility and with Robert Fearon's in-game accessibility options this wonderfully noisy game can be played with a single switch. In normal play you'll need very fast reactions and ideally the ability to double and treble click. In practice mode however, just enjoy the mad light show, effects and general carnage you can create clicking at your leisure. Absolutely superb fun!

For one-switch Arena Shooter fans I can highly recommend Sentinella too. Also keep an eye out for SY!NSO! 2 which is due out on May the 16th. Please do donate if you enjoy the game. It keeps this kind of stuff coming.

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BBC One Switch Accessible Newsreader

BBC One Switch Accessible Newsreader The BBC have just released a highly accessible newsreader that will suit many users with it's beautifully designed interface. The up to date stories are sourced from Newsround which has a thirty year history in the UK of bringing world news to children in a clear and non-patronising manner. Ah, good old John Craven...

Good points: Clearly written news with well chosen photos, an interface system with distinct icons, speech and a choice of access methods including a one-switch access mode.

It's just gone live, and the BBC would very much appreciate any feedback including suggestions for improvements. I'd like to see a two-switch mode and a way to slow the speech down. Then I'd love to see an accessible newsreader for adults too. I love progress! This reminds me that I must update my news ideas page ASAP.

Via: Ian Hamilton (Senior Designer, FM&T Vision UX&D, BBC Future Media & Technology)

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D.I.Y. Switch Accessible Joypad for Playstation 2

Switch Adapted Joypad for Playstation 2. I was recently asked to build a switch accessible Joypad for a Playstation 2 which led me to thinking about adding a D.I.Y. guide for such a device.

The most important thing was to track down some controllers that were PSone Dual-Shock compatible with digital buttons. If you wire an accessibility switch straight into the contacts of more typical analogue buttons the added resistance causes 'weak-press' problems. For instance, pressing your switch on the likes of GTA when driving a car will have you in driving-miss-daisy mode all day. Slow and not ideal for a getaway!

After a bit of trial and error I've found a good batch which are now available to buy ready adapted or unadapted ready for you to follow the D.I.Y. guide.

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Adding Analogue Controls to Games Machines

Image of a highly adapted Atari 400 by Fridgebuzzz.com. Geoff Harback of LEPMIS has written a guide for creating tailor made analogue controls for use with the Playstation 3 and his Switch Access Pod. With his permission I am hosting this D.I.Y. guide, linked via my D.I.Y. pages and Games Console Switch Interfaces index.

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MERU: Joy of Sound

Vacuum Cleaner Organ. Press the keys to sound the vacuum cleaners in a musical way. Light Bulb Piano. The above photos show a Vacuum Cleaner Organ and Light Bulb Piano created by the Joy of Sound musical charity. I've pinched these images from the MERU Design Club Facebook project page. Here MERU are calling all interested parties to club together to create a unique and accessible musical instrument for the Joy of Sound. Could be an exceptionally fun project.

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Switch Soccer

Image of Switch Soccer - switch accessible football game.There seems to be a bit of a running football theme this month. Good to find a one-switch football game online in the form of Scott McKay's Switch Soccer (although everyone in the UK knows it should be Switch Football really)! Hoping to get the okay to host it too so as to allow people to play off-line.

Added to the one-switch sports section. See also one-switch Penalty!

Via: Virtual Voices Village

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Accessible Gaming Shops

Image of Gimpgear specialised accessible controller. Broadened Horizons aka Gimpgear are going from strength to strength with their accessible gaming gear. I'm really impressed with what they are achieving and have happily added some details of their latest Wii adaptations to the Accessible Gaming Shop. Good work!

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Cutomising Wheelchairs D.I.Y. Part 2

Image of custom wheel guards.Custom Wheels (expensive but very nice looking).
Custom Spoke Guards (aka Hub Caps - UK).
Custom Spoke Guards (aka Hub Caps - USA).

Illuminated Front Castors
Neon Valve Caps (eBay)
Rainbow Racer (Light Show on your wheels).
El Wire (Luminescent piping).

eBay then search on "Vinyl Sticker" or "Biker Stickers" or "Car Sticker".

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Eye Controlled Fifa '09

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