Game Accessibility Interviews: Chris Myers (UK)

Photo of Christopher Myers in dinner suit, looking straight at the camera.

Christopher Myers has been a long time promoter of accessible gaming, especially so for one-switch games. Read his splendid interview over at the GameBase.

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Technicolour Dreams

Beautiful multi-coloured art from the Japanese Katamari web-site.

"There is one important thing that has been kept in place for me since losing most of my vision and that is my ability to dream in Technicolor. I do not know how to explain it and how/why it has continued like this for me, but there you have it."


Read the rest at Donna Jodhan's wonderful "Advocating Accessibility For All" blog. Image from Katamari.

Game Accessibility Symbols

Three different symbols, in three different styles representing game accessibility. The first is of the Universal Symbol of Accessibility (the wheelchair user) with a joystick playing a variant of Space Invaders. The second is of Pac-Man in a wheelchair munching some dots. The third is of a hybrid large basic joypad merging into a wheelchair user.

In their on-going work to form a solid game accessibility ratings system, SpecialEffect are looking for a symbol to represent Game Accessibility. They're asking for people's thoughts on the above. Which grabs you?

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Glove Pie



The videos above demonstrate the controller utility Glove Pie being used to play games with voice alone. Alex Kostov was behind the Track Mania Nations demo (giving thanks to InsaneLogic for help in creating the script). The FIFA demo is by Bill Donegan of SpecialEffect.

Glove Pie relies upon a scripting language, which is a very basic form of programming. It may well be worth persevering with as it is hugely versatile. You can connect many Wii compatible devices to your PC, Midi, microphones and more. This YouTube guide gives tips on how to use GlovePie with speech control.



For alternative speech access, see Say2Play or VAC (those links thanks to Mark Barlet and Steve Spohn of AbleGamers). All added to the Accessible Gaming Shop under Various and Software Utilities.

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Switch It Up - 20th August 2011

Photo of children using switch adapted Nerf guns, and games in the back ground, linked to the new Switch It Up! accessible gaming event.

Assistive Technology Partners invites children with disabilities, 3 - 21 years of age to their third annual event, Switch It Up! [previously called AbleGames], in Denver, USA.

Switch It Up! offers a fun filled day of adapted gaming for the whole family. Enjoy the Wii, computer games, pinball and an assortment of games and activities designed and modified to be accessible for kids with physical and sensory challenges. We are Switching Things Up so that everyone can play and be fully included. Come and experience the possibilities of what accessible gaming and assistive technology can do to enhance the quality of life for children with disabilities. Gear up and get your game on!


See their official event flyer for more. To learn of other accessible gaming events across the globe, and to share details of your own, please see the "Events" pane at SpecialEffect's GameBase.

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OM Interactive


Not cheap, but OM Interactive have lots of lovely interactive video toys and games for their various set-ups. Link via Mick Donegan of SpecialEffect.

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a11y Hackday

Dr. Honeydue Bunsen from The Muppets, at a11y Hackday!

"a11y Hackspace" is the free accessibility 'doing' event that DevCSI and Full Measure are running on June 21/22. 


This will be 2 days of practical working on real world accessibility problems using open techniques. We'll also be creating interesting accessibility features or assistive technology using open development techniques. A dynamic mixture of users, specialists, FE/HE developers and other interested folk will share knowledge and experience while working on challenges and innovative solutions. The actual topics discussed and worked on will be selected on the day, after a brainstorming session. There will be opportunities for pre event discussion on the mailing list. We're also having keynotes and
lighting talks.

We're providing one night accommodation and evening meal so you can work late if you feel inspired.

Full details of the event on the DevCSI website, where you should register. Numbers are restricted so I advise early registration.

Name: A11y Hackspace
Date: Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 June 2011
Venue and accommodation: Conference Aston Hotel and Conference Centre, Birmingham
Info and Registration:


http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/events/devcsi/accessibility_hackdays
http://fullmeasure.co.uk/a11yhack/

Via: Steve Lee of Full Measure

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SEN Teacher

Image of a mix of UK coins from SEN Teacher.
I've long had a link up to SEN Teacher, but recently had cause to use it more than usual. I'd forgotten what an absolutely brilliant site it is. Absolutely priceless when it comes to knocking up easy print-outs of money and lanugage related teaching resources. Great for knocking up customised certificates too. So thank you whoever is behind SEN Teacher. Brilliant!

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One Press Frogger


ICE (of Stacker fame) have created a ticket winning arcade machine based on Frogger. Hit the glowing green switch once to set your frog off in action. It's as hard as you might imagine to get to the top, but still a bit of quick fun. Read more on one-switch redemption games at the SpecialEffect GameBase and play the best one-switch version of Frogger, Froggy Ribbit, via my game library.

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Enabled Gamer: Carl Thompson

Photo of Carl Thompson's D.I.Y. adapted Wii Nunchuk mounting system to make gaming accessible.

"Some people play videogames just for fun, and it's a perfectly legitimate reason. I'm a lot more competitive though, and this naturally means I want to win and be more than good at them when I play. Unfortunately, having a physical disability and the resulting reduced function of my hands often hinders my game playing ability.

One way to get around this is to play videogames that don't rely on hand eye coordination, and instead focus on story and strategy instead. Whilst these games are all well and good on some (even most) occasions, I still like playing the faster paced and action oriented varieties.

But as I mentioned above, I want to be good at these games and I want to win. So even if it is possible for me to relatively competently play a videogame that requires fine motor skills, I'm not satisfied with just being competent."

Read more on Carl Thompson's efforts to excel at gaming in his splendid blog "Working at Perfect".

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PageBot - Switch Accessible Kindle

Photo of Origin Instruments' PageBot for Kindle. Switch accessible e-Book reader.

It's really good when you see something that you know many people want, turn into reality. Origin Instruments have created a switch interface for Amazon's Kindle (an electronic book) called the PageBot. It's a convenient way for switch users to read books on the go. This is progress on from the super expensive real-world switch accessible book page turners.


Available from Origin's Amazon page, and retailing at $379 USD for Kindle DX and $329 for Kindle 2. Link found via Dave Banes and Accessibility and Technology Geek blog.

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Terry Garrett Playing Blind


Terry Garrett posted this excellent video on his YouTube Channel. It shows just how important good audio design is when it comes to accessibility. Read more on Terry over at Wired.

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Hedgehogs

Photo of a hedgehog with leg in plaster, with Sonic Team written above it.


A couple of nights ago, I popped out the back of my house to water my tomatos (yes I live an exciting life), and there jammed part way under the decking steps was a huge hedgehog. I thought it must be very ill, as it wasn't moving, so I scooped it up into a box, and popped it in my garage. I didn't want it to become rat/fox fodder, and I fully expected it to be dead in the morning.


Next day, I pop in the garage. The hedgehog had cleared off to hide under my broken pinball machine. It looked a bit less dozy and spent some time sussing me, my wife, daughter and her friend out as we peered at it, and named it Harry.

Quick trip down to the wonderful South East Essex Wildlife Hospital, saw Harry turn into Harriet. They said they'd check her out properly, but thought she looked fine. They wondered if we'd like to take on two new hedgehogs for our garden in the near future, as they had 200. We're looking forward to the phone call and saying yes. Have I become completely middle-aged now?

Game Accessibility Symbol

Game Accessibility and Web Accessibility Symbols.

Whilst working on the SpecialEffect Accessible GameBase ratings system, I've been scratching my head over one thing. What symbol might best represent Game Accessibility. Something you might see on the box or web-site of a game, that will tell you straight away, this game has accessibility features, and without too much effort, I should be able to find out more about them.

The internationally recognised symbol for accessibility is presently a wheelchair user on a blue back ground. This is an imperfect symbol of course, but what might be better? And what might be better to represent game accessibility?

Some really interesting concepts have come my way. Top left was a 1996 competition winner to represent Web Accessibility. Middle left is a very clever concept from Dimitri Gramenos explained from slide 187 here. The Pac-Man ghosts representing four categories of disability and the joystick on a wheelchair came from Richard Van Tol's efforts at Game-Accessibility.com.


I'm still not sure though on what might be the best. Any other thoughts would be much appreciated...

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Fight For Your Right (Revisited) - 18 rated



Please do not watch, nor listen if easily offended by the Beastie Boys, because they are rude. Thanks to Cassie for the tip off via Facebook.

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The Mouth


Potentially huge fun for alternative-mouse pointer users too with a microphone or alternative sound source. See more at Native Instruments.

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Five Months of Kinect Projects


Johnny Chung Lee has posted a short video of some of the weird and wonderful Kinect projects that have turned up in the past five months.

And below is a video from 1985 showing some early VideoPlace work by Myron Krueger whose work clearly inspired EyeToy and Kinect.


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Thank You Atari!

Photo of Mount Fuji in Japan with the Atari and Atari Special Feature logos superimposed on top.


Really chuffed that Atari have given the okay for their lovely old Teddy Bear symbol to be used with SpecialEffect's brand new accessible game rating system.

Atari were the first game company to label their games for having additional accessibility options back in 1981 marked as having a "Special Feature". SpecialEffect are using the bear in a different context, using it to mark games that have "content unlikely to cause offence".

The ratings system is under development, but will be tying up with the on-line Wish List for Accessible Game Design. Watch that space...

Image of Atari's Special Feature bear logo.

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Xbox 360: The Avenger



N-Control's 'The Avenger' is a case that fits over any standard Xbox 360 joypad to bring controls into easier access. There's a great story at CBS Miami on the origins of this device and it enabling a young man who was unable to use a standard Xbox controller.

Link with thanks to Sheri Rubin. Added to the OneSwitch Accessible Gaming Shop.

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Article 31: The Right To Play

Photo from AbleGames of a young lad playing a one-switch game amongst friends and family.

"The right to play is enshrined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK government in 1991. The government has a duty under this convention to protect and promote play opportunities for all children and young people."


See also: International Play Association; Children's Right To Play; Play England.

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PS2 to PS3 converter: Last one standing?

PS2 to PS3/Xbox360 Joypad adapter.

Sony aren't very popular these days are they? They do have a bit of a history of being very heavy handed (remember Lik-Sang, anyone?) with non-conventional use of their PS3. They've bashed the accessibility of their own console since update 3.50, by making it very hard to connect alternative controllers to their console. They've also lost millions of people's personal details and likely credit card details too. Things have got to get better haven't they?

On the up side, there is at least one PS2 to PS3 adapter left that still works, available via the likes of eBay (search on "ps2 xbox 360 ps3 converter adapter"). Like the previously working Logic 3 adapter, hold SELECT then press UP to call up the XMB menu when needed. Please Sony, do the right thing and leave at least this one working!

Tip thanks to Bill Donegan at SpecialEffect's Accessible GameBase.

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Orthros One Handed Controller


The video above shows the LEPMIS prototype ORTHROS one-handed controller. Compatible with PS3, Xbox 360 or PC, it's great to see new one-handed solutions coming out.

Highly reconfigurable and available to buy now for around £235 + £375 for the PS3 Switch Access Pod, contact Geoff Harbach for more details.

For alternative one-hand controllers, see the OneSwitch shop.

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News in Symbols

News-2-You symbolic newspaper report on William and Kate's royal wedding.
News-2-You and Inclusive Technology have tied up to bring out free news bulletins on an occasional basis. Their first is on the royal wedding which you may be aware of.

For more regular accessible news, take a look at SymbolWorld.org and the BBC's Accessible news-reader. Amusingly the BBC are running with a "Royal Wedding Sick Bag for sale!" story under the UK news.

Added to the OneSwitch page on accessible news.

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Game Accessibility Interviews: Alex Kostov (UK)

Photo of Alex Kostov playing Fifa 10 on his PC using eye-gaze and speech control.

Enabled gamer Alex Kostov has given a great interview over at the Accessible GameBase which is well worth a read (and play). If you, or someone you know, would like to be interviewed, please get in touch.

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C-SID and GameCube Joypad Wii Games

Photo of Colin posing with his C-SID accessible controller set-up playing Zelda on his GameCube.
Photo of a Wii with purple GameCube controller attached
For C-SID users wishing to play Wii games with switches, Wikipedia have a must see list of compatible games. For those wishing to play Japanese compatible games, there's a slim chance that you may be able to use Datel's Freeloader disk.

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Cloud Music

Image of Audiotool, an amazing on-line music creation system.

I've mentioned Burnstudio's Audiotool before, but it's worth a second mention. It's an amazing on-line music creation studio. You can drag and hook up various expensive sound modules, effects pedals and more. Once you've got a nice rhythm flowing you can play/pause using a switch hooked up to the SPACE BAR. Alternatively, you can use left-click to switch some elements on and off that with pre-planning can be very effective.

Alternatively, if you have accurate point, click and dragging skills you'll have massive control over creating some fantastic sounding music.

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