Grooveshark

Cartoon image of a man with a fishing rod who has caught a shark, which hangs upside down looking dazed whilst listening to an iPod. A bit odd I grant you!My daughter passed this one on to me. Grooveshark is a similar thing to Spotify (free on-line streamed music) but requires no installation. Build a playlist of favourite music first, using a really easy mouse and keyboard based search and drag and drop system. Then set a switch to SPACE to play/pause a track, and optionally set more switches to use CTRL+ the left or right arrows to skip tracks. Use the loop and randomise icons to keep the music flowing. Added to my Music Search Sites blog post.

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PS3 Joypad game played with Head Tracker

Fantastic to see a PS3 being uniquely controlled by a head-tracker and symbols based control grid courtesy of the SpecialEffect GamesLab. Read my previous post The Holy Grail of Accessible Controllers? to find out why this kind of work is so important. Special Effect are making some huge strides for accessible gaming.

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Rare One Handed Controllers Back In Stock

HORI Separate One Handed Controller at OneSwitch.org.ukHORI Super Robot Wars One Handed ControllerFor the moment the OneSwitch.org.uk shop has a HORI Separate controller, a HORI Super Robot Wars Controller and the super rare ASCII Grip V2 back in stock. These are all Playstation 2 controllers but will work great on Xbox 360 and PS3 using an extra adapter.

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TalkSense

Image of a green A.A.C symbols communication device with a speech bubble reading 'Talk Sense'.
Mike Taylor of Excitim recently made me aware of the excellent TalkSense website run by Tony James. Just take a look at the Good Practice in Developing Switch Skills, the Switching to Communication guide and Services page to see just how valuable this resource is. I especially applaud the free symbols for switches documents. Superb stuff. Keep it up, Tony!

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Microsoft Research: Songsmith

Image of Songsmith's musical style selection screen. Reggae highlighted with Pop Ballad, R&B, Rock and Salsa also available. A Style Mood drop down bar reads 'Light'. A Get More Styles button is also shown. Microsoft have a free to download 6 hour trial of their research project "Songsmith". Choose a style of music, set the tempo, hit record, then sing a song into your computer's microphone. When finished, hit the SPACE BAR (or switch set to that) and Songsmith will build a song around your performance in the style you chose.

This is said to work with musical instruments too. I'm immediately thinking of accessible musical instruments such as The Skoog, The Magic Flute and these one-switch instruments. Play a solo then have the computer build the backing around your performance. Exciting stuff that should only get better in the future.

Link via LittleMaths Twitter feed.

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Switch Painting

Red, Orange and Yellow tyre-tracks on paper created by a switch adapted remote control car running through paint (chosen using Eye Gaze).A switch using student has created a lovely bit of autumnal coloured art using a switch adapted car. Read more over at the Exceptional Students in the Classroom Blog. Reminds me of some battery powered ink-guns I had adapted years ago that also created some great looking art. Messy fun for sure.

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XFPS "Magic Link"

Image of two XFPS adapters in front of an Xbox 360 and PS3. XCM were the first to crack Microsoft's anti-choice circuitry enabling gamers to connect just about any Playstation compatible controller, PC mouse and/or keyboard to an Xbox 360 and PS3 with their XFPS adapters.

The latest XFPS 4.0 takes with one hand (PS2 controller compatibility removed - boo), gives with the other (PC reconfiguration tool for remapping controls) and promises something very exciting for the future in "Magic Link". Cribbed straight from their site:

"When using with our new coming product (Magic link), the remote player can help you to pass the game level via the internet from his PC." I wonder...

Tip via ErigBurger with thanks!

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Mind Controlled Music

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Korg Kaossilator - Adapted for Improved Access



The very fine performances above were made possible thanks to MyBreathMyMusic.com's natty adapted Korg Kaossilator. It features accessibility switch inputs alongside an adaptation for the rotary wheel control. Great to see.

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One Switch Power Point Utility: "4Pete's Sake"

Image of an animated power point story book title screen with the 4Pete's Sake padlock utility in front.William Pilgrim's 4Pete's Sake utility is designed to assist one-switch users to step through Power Point slideshows with more control. Hosted within the OneSwitch 4Noah Laboratory, it has two modes: Padlocked and Back and Forth.

The Padlocked mode is aimed to assist users who are 'press-happy' or find it hard activate a single press. The Back and Forth mode aims to give one-switch users the power to step forwards and backwards through a slideshow at will.

There are a huge range of uses for Power Point, such as controlling a photo-album, performing a story to a group, triggering music and sound effects for a show and so on. I highly recommend taking a quick peek at Pete Wells excellent sensory stories for a starting point, then moving onto the TLWMSN Blog for more. D.I.Y. is probably the best bet for a lot of users though with support. Have fun!

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One Switch Bowling One Day

Image of a Disco themed Bowling Alley.I've tracked down a few point-and-click bowling games that should also suit some one-switch gamers with help.

First and me somewhat missing the boat is Halloween Bowling where you bowl a Pumpkin to knock down ghosts. Very similar but without the spooky theme is Wiicade Bowling. Finally, and perhaps the best bet for those with slower reactions is the 70's Disco themed Disco Bowling.

None are perfect accessibility wise, and none are a huge step up from 10th Frame Bowling that I remember setting up for semi one-switch play nearly 15 years ago. One day there'll be a Wii Bowling quality game with an option for gutter bumpers and for one-switch play. One day.

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SY!NSO! (Xbox 360) - With One Switch Mode

Squid Yes! Octopus Not So! Virtual Box Cover Art for Xbox 360 Indie game with One Switch mode.About time! The Xbox 360 gets it's first game with a one-switch mode. Forza 3 promised it, Bayonetta may deliver it, but indie title SY!NSO! has it right here, right now in the Xbox Live Indie Arcade.

SY!NSO! is a frenetic arena shoot-em-up where the aim of the game is to score as close to 9 as you can. I've managed 1 and a half so far in one-switch mode, and it was huge fun. The game has some great accessibility features, previously seen in the PC version, including: a practice mode where you are invincible, zoom options and auto-fire modes. Marvellous. You can read more over at the Daily Rodent.

The lovely thing about Xbox Live is that you can try before you buy. From this I spotted another one button playable game in Fishing Girl. This is a pleasant enough fishing game where you can cast off and reel in using a single switch. Best played with a friend nearby to assist with the occassional extra buttons needed. See XNPlay for easy to digest reviews of the huge number of indie games.

Whilst I'm on the Xbox 360, thought I'd quickly share that the Playstation to Xbox 360 joypad converter from Korea, the Xconverter 360, works very well. It still needs a wired Xbox 360 joypad attached, which in this case, becomes inactive. The main downside with this is that you won't be able to use two controllers at once for the same player as is the case with the Max Shooter for joint play.

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RehaDesigns Wheelchair Accessories

Image of a wheelchair wheel covered in thin white reflectors. I've just been introduced to Lithuanian based RehaDesigns Wheelchair Accessories Web-Store who have some really great looking products. I particularly liked the under-wheelchair lighting, wheel reflectors and wheel slippers. I'm not 100% sure how the naked woman in a washing machine spoke guard would go down at your local shops, but maybe I'm just a prude.

RehaDesigns also have a cracking blog dedicated to wheelchair pride and developments, called, Wheelchair Pride. Both added to the OneSwitch Links page.

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Slotbahn - (Part) One Button Racer

Image of a green car hurtling down a scalextric track surrounded by chairs.It's not often I get to see a pure one-switch race game. I'm not seeing one here either. However, 'Slotbahn' is good enough to warrant a place in the OneSwitch games library. It's a slightly bonkers Japanese slot-car game (Scalextric to me).

One and two-switch gamers will need a helper to set up games, but once started, all they'll need is "Z" to accellerate and optionally "X" to brake. I'm going to try e-mailing the Japanese author to see if he/she'll consider making a pure one-switch version. You never know.

Tip off via Rob Fearon via IndieGames.com

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Spooky Halloween Stuff (363 days early)

Cartoon image of a boy in a dingy looking house mixing colourful potions. I'd liked to have shared this before, but didn't have time. HelpKidzLearn have added "Aunty Maggie's Recipe" to their fantastic site. It's a simple halloween themed one-switch, two-switch and mouse compatible activity. Brew up a potion, drink it when ready then see what happens next. Very polished indeed.

We had some fun this halloween using Switch Mixer Lite and a pressure mat outside our front door. As soon as any trick-or-treaters stood on it they'd trigger a spooky sound played LOUD. Took quite a few kids by surprise. The rough D.I.Y. list:

A PC with loudspeakers. Switch Mixer Lite. Spooky sound samples in WAV format (we used some from SuperGlobe.com). A Switch Interface. JoyToKey. A pressure sensitive mat hooked up to a 3.5mm plug or any accessibility switch.

Later I relived the 1980's with some indoor fireworks from the Glow Company which my daughter and her friends were quite impressed by. Smoky!

[EDIT] Missed Mémory Halloween too from RNT' Blog. A fun little memory picture matching game that is mouse compatible for head-tracker or eye tracker play. Next year then?!

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Forza 3: One Button Mode?

Forza 3 - One Switch Accessible?Nope. There is no one-button driving assist mode in Forza 3 for the Xbox 360. Certainly not as I'd hoped to see it. It's not all glum news though...

What have been included are some really nice driver assist modes. If you enable them all and jam the right trigger on you can race using the thumb stick alone for steering. Perhaps the one-button mode they mentioned is the excellent REWIND feature that allows you to re-take a messed up manouvre
.

A lot of the other modes I first saw in SEGA's Ferrari F355 Challenge have resurfaced here including auto-braking and an on-screen racing line. Unlike F355 Challenge winning races is no where near as hard. All of this alone will be reason enough to buy Forza for a lot of disabled players, and it's a great improvement on many racing games.

This said, a true one-switch mode, larger text, a more intuitive menu system, reconfigurable controls, and some Destruction Derby style tracks would have really put the icing on the cake. See the IGDA GASIG's Top 3 Accessibility Features for Driving Games for more ideas for Forza 4.

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