Poly Styrene (1957-2011)

Sad to hear that Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex died yesterday from breast cancer. She was ace.


Nanogames Marvelous May Sale

Image of Nanogames compilation of on-line accessible games.

"Subscribe to the Nanogames Newsletter and you could buy Nanogames in May for as little as US $1 (usually US $89).

The next version of Nanogames (Version 3) will be available soon so during all of May 2011 we are running a virtual clearance sale of the current Version 2. Each day of May, at a random time, we will dramatically drop the price on a limited number of the download version of Nanogames (normally US$89.00). On the 1st of May there will be a small number on sale for download for just US$1.00, then on the 2nd of May there will be a few more available for US$2. etc. Each day in May the sale price will go up one US dollar. eg. on the 20th May the sale price will be US$20.00."

Read more over at Nanogames. I highly recommend picking these games up if you haven't already. Can't wait for version 3!

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EyeGaze Board Free Samples

Cartoon image of a young girl using an Eye Gaze board, marked YES on one side with a smiley green face, and NO on the other with a RED sad face.

Kate Ahern has posted a splendid range of simple eye gaze boards which are free for people to adapt and use. The starting basic advice is good and simple: Print on card; Cut out the middle; Use consistently.

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The Synaps: Prototype Split Joypad

Image of The Synaps split controller joypad mock-up, intended for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Prototype controller The Synaps seeks to take the split controller functionality of the very hard to find HORI Separate and then add motion sensitivity. The above photo mock-up is intended to see the light of day for PS3 and Xbox 360 within the next six months. Let's hope so.

Link with thanks to Techni Myoko.



Ben Schogler of Skoogmusic recently pointed me in the direction of this excellent video with all music on it being created by Skoog musicians.  Skoogmusic has just been launched in the USA, but more exciting for me, I'm finally going to get my hands on one to keep for a few weeks on trial with the latest software. Nice.


Game Accessibility Interviews: Izzy (Australia)

Image of Izzy playing Doom on his cousin's PC in 1994-ish using pure keyboard controls.

SpecialEffect's Accessible GameBase is interviewing passionate people working and/or playing in the field of accessible games. The first sees us travelling over to Australia to meet Izzy of the Enabled Gamer blog. He has plenty to say that is utterly relevent to the state of play today.


Disabled and Reduced Mobility Airport Guide

Black and white photo of a young lad being pushed on a trolly by his Mum on an airport travelator. Image by Julian Palapa.

Parkat have just published a useful on-line airport guide for disabled people planning a journey by air. It's very clearly written and offers some good advice and support.

Separate from this, I can highly recommend Traveline for planning UK journeys on public transport and the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain. See more still at the OneSwitch links section marked "Places to Go".

If you were born in the early 1970s, you may enjoy some Motors and Thomas Dolby to accompany this post. Image by Julian Palapa.



Wonderful to see funk hero Bootsy Collins live at Jools Holland last night. What a ray of sunshine. Some people just make the world a better place to live in, and Bootsy is one of them.


Jerry Lawson (1940-2011)

Jerry Lawson with his Fairchild Channel F, pioneering video games console from 1976.

Video game pioneer, Jerry Lawson, sadly died on Saturday the 9th of April this year. He designed the first games machine with proper interchangeable cartridges with his 1976 Fairchild Channel F. I have the UK version (the Grandstand VEC) set-up in my lounge right now. It's still a lot of fun, and I love the hippy-fied Quadra-doodle.

Of accessibility interest, this machine featured games that typically offered a range of difficulty levels and the ability to pause the action. On top of this, the unique controllers can be used one-handed (if you wedged them between your legs), and of one-switch note this console featured the first ever one-button playable home video game with "Shooting Gallery".

Read more on Jerry over at Vintage Computing and Gaming and MercuryNews.com.


youview: Accessible Television

Image of YouView logo with mock-up digi-box and logos of supporting TV stations.

Very exciting developments are afoot in the UK for making a standard platform for internet and digital television. What is so exciting is the range of accessibility features being included in the base specifications. Read on to the bottom of that linked list and you'll see mention of game controller and accessibility switch use. Interesting!

I'll share more as I learn more worth sharing. Lets hope this is a huge success. I'll certainly be very tempted to bin off my Sky+ box if this all comes to fruition.

Info with many thanks to Ian Hamilton of the BBC.


"oo", "ah", "ee" and "eh".

X-ray image of a brain with an implanted array of electronic sensors.

"Using the electrocorticographic speech network to control a brain–computer interface in humans" is a study offering great potential for mind control over 2D and click controls. What this means in effect is the potential for mouse emulation through thoughts alone. Read more at the BBC. The possibilities are amazing for disabled and non disabled people alike.


On-line Picture Editing Software

Mark Rothko block colour art. Deep blue and black.

In my other job, I've been working on pictorial shopping lists for very easy to cook meals. As our computers are locked up tight as regards installing new software, it's been great to discover how many superb on-line picture editing packages there are.

We've initially been using two fantastic on-line free photo editing packages to do this. First is "Pixlr" from Pixlr.com which takes a bit of getting used to, but is very powerful. Secondly is FotoFlexer which is simpler with some great effects. If these don't suit, there are many more photo editors that are equally worth a try.

All added to my Free Symbols section, which combined offer some great starting points for building inclusive communication systems.

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Save Our Souls

Street art. Three clay figures emerging from a puddle all wearing life-buoys. In the background a real British Police van.

Left4Dead 2 Accessibility Breakdown

Left4Dead 2 wall paper. Silhouette image of four heros on an unspeakable mound.

There's a magnificient accessibility analysis of Valve's Left4Dead 2 (certificate 18) over at Videojuegos Accesibles Blog. You can quickly translate it into English should you need. Massively impressed by the detail of this review.


A Disabled Gamers Retrospective (Part 1: The 1980s)

Screen shot from 1980's Karate game, Kareteka for the Apple II.

"My name is Ismail (izzy) and I’m a gamer. No I’m not an addict but I do love playing games. I am currently 29 years old and I was born with a physical disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which severely weakens the muscles in my body as time progresses. Now that you know who I am, let me tell you why I’m here. I’m here to tell you, my dear reader, the story of where and how my love of gaming started. You will learn where this amazing journey began and where it has brought me today. I will also explain all of the different methods and tools that I have used to help me play games over the years."

Read on at Izzy's extremely promising looking Enabled Gaming blog. Can't wait for part 2.




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