Xbox Celebrates the Disability Communities with New Accessibility Updates

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    Xbox wants everyone to be able to play any game they want, with any group of people they choose. Plus the more than 400 million disabled players in the world. We are celebrating the Disability community and the many people and groups working to remove hurdles to play today with the 2022 Xbox Accessibility Showcase. This will make gaming easier for everyone around the world.

    This year, we chose to host the Xbox Accessibility Showcase in the Microsoft Inclusive Tech Lab, which is located on Microsoft’s Redmond, WA campus and intentionally built with accessibility in mind from the ground up. By showing how inclusive technologies let everyone take part, the lab hopes to get developers and designers to include people with disabilities on purpose in the goods and services they make. It is the same with games. More people can connect with each other through play when our experiences, games, and platforms are easy for everyone to access. This is true whether they are playing with their family, seeing themselves in a game, or helping others discover the fun of gaming.

    In fact, when we asked members of Xbox Accessibility Insiders League (XAIL) and the Xbox Ambassador community what they wanted in the future of accessibility, they emphasized:

    • The need for more and different kinds of accessibility choices all year long, along with the ability to change accessibility options like text, subtitles, captions, and difficulty settings
    • How important it is to include disabled players in the planning process, both as collaborators and as viewers.
    • How important it is to have consistent settings, make tools easier to find, and talk about accessible gaming.

    Our goal is to make everything accessible in the future. Today, we are excited to share updates that will make it easier for everyone to create, play, and connect through games. In the coming years, we are excited to work with the community and business to bring the power of play to more people.

    Make it.

    In addition to updates on the Accessibility Developer Resource page, we are excited to share the following resources that make it easier to create games with accessibility and connect with community.

    Players with disabilities can use the Microsoft Gaming Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS).

    Since launching the Microsoft Gaming Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS) in February 2021, hundreds of Xbox and PC titles have had the accessibility of their titles validated against the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs), with feedback from players with disabilities shared and details on Xbox’s Game Accessibility Feature Tags applied. This month, a new offering called MGATS- Players with Disability Focus (PwD) launches for studios not quite ready for testing across 20+ XAGs. Developers of video games can use this service to get feedback from disabled players about basic game features, how to use menus, and settings.

    Xbox Accessibility Guidelines – Help with Touch Controls

    The Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) are a set of best practices that have been developed in partnership with industry experts and members of the Gaming & Disability Community. Based off community feedback, this month we launched best practices around touch-based interfaces when it comes to gaming on mobile devices. These new guidelines go into more depth about touch target placement and size suggestions, swipe sensitivity, and how important it is to support accessibility features that are built into mobile devices.

    Link up

    Playing video games can bring people together. At Xbox, we want to bring the joy of play and community to billions of players, including the more than 400 million disabled players.

    The Accessibility Explorer Path for Xbox Ambassador

    The Xbox Ambassador program is a group of players that celebrate the uniqueness of everyone, promote a safe gaming environment, and above all else, make gaming fun for everyone. And a big part of that is knowing what kinds of games are out there. To support this, we announce the new, free Xbox Ambassador Accessibility Explorer Path, an engaging, new learning path meant to teach Xbox Ambassadors all about accessibility. This means trying out the accessibility features of platforms and games, reading about disabled leaders and players, and finding out the best ways to make things accessible. All through the season, new tasks will be added that will help Explorers learn more. Check out more details and join the Xbox Ambassador program today!

    Find features that make Xbox and PC easier to use. Help at Xbox

    Xbox has a redesigned support hub for players to learn about all the accessibility features on console and Windows devices, so players spend less time figuring out how to use a feature and more time playing. The accessibility articles are now organized by feature type to make them easier to find. This way, players can get the help they need, learn about new features, and compare features between PC and console. New and updated articles coming in October include Narrator shortcuts (keyboard and controller), Xbox notifications, and copilot on PC. Check out the updated Accessibility site (English available today, additional languages to be available soon) or the short video sharing the key updates.

    Have fun!

    We can explore new places, see things from different points of view, and make new memories through play. For that to happen, people must be able to get to the games. In addition to accessibility pages on to the Family Gaming Database, to make it even easier to find accessibility features on games, we share a few games recently launched, coming soon, or featured in the 2022 Xbox Accessibility Showcase.

    Blossom’s Stories

    In 2023, it will be out on consoles and PC. Come along with Clara as she brings to life a collection of short stories that her caring grandfather told her. Look at pictures from storybooks, make friends with cute animals that are in strange situations, and help them solve their problems as you go. Accessibility has been a big part of Stories of Blossom’s growth from the very beginning. View the accessibility features in the game here and check out today’s Showcase to learn how the developers worked with Xbox to incorporate accessibility into the game.

    Feeling of penance

    On November 15, it will be available on Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, consoles, PCs, and Steam. Pentiment takes place in Bavaria in the 1600s and tells the story through the eyes of Journeyman Artist Andreas Maler during a very unstable time in society. The skilled people who work on this game are led by Josh Sawyer, who draws ideas from illuminated manuscripts, woodcut prints, and history itself.

    Calligraphic texts from the late Middle Ages are sometimes hard to read. Obsidian Entertainment and Xbox worked together to make sure that the game’s font settings could be changed in a number of ways. These included font resizing, high contrast mode, text-to-speech, and a “Easy Read” font option that turns off some fonts and writing effects to make the text easier to read.

    As Night Falls

    It is now out there for Xbox Game Pass, Console, PC, Cloud, and Steam. The interactive story As Dusk Falls from Interior/Night follows the lives of two families over thirty years and is made by them. Night thinks that As Dusk Falls should be able to be played and enjoyed by as many people as possible. Accessibility settings for the game can be found in the Settings menu on the main screen or in the pause menu. Some of these are different text-to-speech choices, on-screen UI, changes to the game play, a companion app, and more. To find out more, click here.

    Held down

    You can get it now with Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, as well as on consoles, PCs, the cloud, and Steam. In Grounded, players wake up in a garden in the suburbs after being shrunk to the size of an ant for no clear reason. Players must explore, build, and stay alive while being led by a robot named BURG.L. They must also deal with the risks and perils that come with being suddenly insect-sized. You can play alone or with friends as Max, Pete, Willow, or Hoops. Be careful of those annoying bugs.

    The Xbox Research team and Obsidian Entertainment worked together to find out what makes people afraid of spiders. The research from Xbox Research helped figure out the best shape for spiders to take in the game and how to change how they look depending on how bad the fear is.

    This led to the game’s Arachnophobia Mode, where players can use a slider to change the size of the different spider forms and lower the volume of their sounds, making the game easier for everyone to play. Click here to learn more about how Grounded makes its games accessible.

    Work together

    One company can not start or finish the process of making games more available. A lot of groups and individuals who think that gaming is for everyone need to work together on this. In honor of this year’s Accessibility Showcase, Xbox would like to thank the following groups:

    SpecialEffect: As seen in today’s showcase, SpecialEffect puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of physically disabled people by helping them to play video games. They are using new technology in creative ways to change the lives of handicapped people all over the world. At the heart of what they do is the goal to help people have more fun and a better quality of life by giving them better power over video games. Microsoft Rewards members in the UK and the US can earn points and give them to SpecialEffect all through October.

    RNIB: The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), is the UK’s leading sight loss charity. They offer practical and emotional support to blind and partially sighted people, their families, and careers. Xbox is delighted to be working with the RNIB to support people who are blind and partially sighted within the gaming community. We look forward to exploring a range of opportunities and initiatives, with the aim of welcoming more perspectives to our gaming communities, for the benefit of all.

    Events for Everyone

    One of the most popular ways to connect, have fun, and experience culture around the world is through gaming. Over three billion people play games, so we want to make sure that events and material are open to everyone. This way, more people can enjoy the moment at the same time as everyone else.

    Gamescom 2022

    We all win when everyone plays. Team Xbox wanted to make sure that as many people as possible could enjoy games at gamescom 2022. To make the experience more accessible, the team focused on a live broadcast with English Audio Descriptions, as well as ASL, BSL, and DGS (German) interpretation for both the broadcast and the in-booth experience. All game stations had Xbox Adaptive Controllers available, and people who asked for them could also get sensory processing gear. Check out Brannon Zahand, Senior Accessibility Program Manager at Xbox, explain the accessibility of the event including additional elements that were considered.

    Tokyo Game Show

    The Programming & Events Team at Xbox is always working to make its videos and material more accessible, even in different languages. That included helping with the Tokyo Game Show 2022 this month. The show had Japanese Sign Language (JSL) audio descriptions, Japanese audio descriptions, and English audio descriptions read by an Australian to be more authentic in the Asia-Pacific countries where it was only shown.

    Check out the Xbox Accessibility Showcase via TwitchXboxASL, and YouTube (available with AD and ASL)


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    Editorial Team
    Editorial Team
    Our Editorial Team at Gaming Ideology consists of passionate gamers and skilled writers dedicated to delivering comprehensive tutorials, insightful reviews, and the latest gaming news. We're committed to helping gamers enhance their skills and enjoy their favorite games to the fullest.