Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) was once again upon us on May 19, and Xbox is implementing some great additions to enhance accessibility for gamers around the world. With nearly 400 million gamers with some form of disability taking advantage of mods and options that make gaming an accessible hobby, the changes and new features introduced by Xbox are being celebrated as great steps forward in making gaming for everyone.
Xbox has begun three initiatives that the company will work on to be more inclusive and accessible. These include promoting inclusive communities, communications and support, enabling access to design and development and ongoing investment in accessibility. To get you started, Xbox worked with Peel County School Board in Ontario, Canada To create a new accessibility world themed in Minecraft: Education Edition. buildability It will allow users to experience the world as people with disabilities experience it, illustrating the number of barriers that prevent access for people with different types of disabilities. The goal of this initiative is to urge players to identify and remove barriers in their communities, as well as encourage inclusive design and problem-solving while maintaining empathy and understanding.
A brand-new Xbox Twitch channel in American Sign Language (ASL) has also been announced, where viewers can expect to see a host of great games played on Xbox for about 25 hours a week. After its partnership with Sorenson in April, viewers can now enjoy streaming Xbox games that are streamed daily on ASL. This is great news for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, as well as for viewers who may be trying to learn the language.
The Xbox Accessibility Insider League (XAIL) partnership and Windows Insider Program now has 163,000 members worldwide, made up of anyone who identifies as a disabled or ally, and has been providing accessibility feedback since last May. Xbox is partnering with the Windows Insider Program to share new accessibility features in Windows 11 preview builds, which is a great way to get good feedback from gamers with disabilities on all aspects of not only gaming but PC features as well.
For Accessible Design and Development Contributions, Xbox has updated Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) 3.0 to include new guidelines for mental health, as well as guidelines for reducing motion sickness, screen readability, contrast and input. In addition, a new Game Accessibility Resource Center has been introduced, providing an extensive video game accessibility resource on a single site. Game creators will find this new tool especially useful when developing their games, as it contains training, conversation, and quiz tools that make future games more accessible. The center will be updated with feedback and input from gamers with disabilities and industry experts alike, making it a valuable tool for the video game community.
With the launch of the Game Access Basics Learning Path in November 2021, the free 5-module course has been greatly appreciated while creating new games. Covering the basics of accessibility, how to collaborate with the disability community, hardware and software assistive technologies and best practices for developing gaming hardware across units, developers and gamers alike can earn a badge upon completion. Many developers will take advantage of the free course, which in turn benefits disabled players by giving them end products that are more accessible.
For the latest part of their initiative, “Continuing Investing in Accessibility for Gamers,” Xbox has improved the accessibility tag system in the Xbox Store. With over 20 tags, including adjustable difficulty options and on-demand tutorials, more than 400 titles are now tagged to make it easier to search for accessible games. Over time, more tags will be added and players will be able to find new games that fit their accessibility requirements. The console itself has also seen some improvements, including the Console Silent UI for additional muting, the ability to remap the share button, the option to increase volume, and adding tooltips for reset on the adaptive Xbox console.
Additionally, Xbox has taken steps to add support for American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) to Forza Horizon 5Cinematic in-game. The developers have also added tweaks to the game’s speed, high contrast mode, color blindness mode, screen reader narrator, the ability to disable animated backgrounds and other features. During the month of May, players can earn Microsoft Rewards points in Forza Horizon 5 He later donated it to two accessible toy charities. With all these additions and changes to games and consoles, the handicapped gaming community will benefit greatly, and we hope the changes will encourage, educate, and inspire other video game developers to follow their lead when it comes to accessibility.