FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recognises Game Accessibility Guidelines for its work to educate game developers about how to include gamers with a range of disabilities
London, Tuesday 17th June 2014 – As part of the M:Enabling conference in Washington DC, Game Accessibility Guidelines – a free web-based resource created to help developers create games which are more inclusive of disabled gamers – has been unveiled as the winner of the Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility, the world’s leading award promoting innovation in information technology accessibility for persons with disabilities. Game Accessibility Guidelines aims to help developers better consider people with disabilities when creating videogames on PC, console and mobile, and is available at http://www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/
The Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility is a signature project of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, and was presented to Game Accessibility Guidelines by its Chairman, Tom Wheeler. The FCC has made accessible communications technologies one of its most valued missions as people with disabilities constitute the nation’s largest minority group – meaning any advancements made in accessible communications will enhance the lives of millions.
Over 20% of gamers have some form of disability, and interactive entertainment can be an important contributor to quality of life, enabling access to recreation, culture and socialising. But too often gamers with disabilities are denied access to these life changing benefits due to a simple lack of awareness amongst developers. So the guidelines project was formed to address this need, giving developers easy access to the knowledge they need to start opening up their games to wider audiences. It was initiated by designer and accessibility specialist Ian Hamilton, who through his prior work at the BBC has a background in creating games and digital content for children with disabilities, and was also a winner of Transport for London’s recent Accessible App Award.
The guidelines were produced through a collaborative effort by an international group of game developers, experts and academics, and tested with gamers with a wide range of impairments. They cover all types of impairment, from colour-blindness to autism, deafness to cerebral palsy, and provide advice on workflow as well as examples of features and considerations. This includes allowing controls to be reconfigured, using symbols as well as colour, and allowing narratives to be replayed.
Disabled game journalist Robert Kingett said, “The guidelines include simple innovations that allow me to play on par with able-bodied gamers, such as the text size/contrast and control mapping options. Games have helped me in uniquely academic and social ways other mediums can’t. I’m beyond ecstatic that the FCC has recognised videogame accessibility because, perhaps, this motivation will encourage more developers to implement accessibility far and wide, even before development. “
Lynsey Graham, guidelines co-author, game designer and accessibility specialist added: “It’s fantastic to see the guidelines and the need for accessibility gaining more recognition. Hopefully as more developers become aware of the issues and how to solve them, the world of gaming will be opened up to even more people.”
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About Game Accessibility Guidelines
A collaborative effort between a group of studios, specialists and academics, to produce a straightforward developer friendly reference for ways to avoid unnecessarily excluding players, and ensure that games are just as fun for as wide a range of people as possible. The resource was launched in September 2012, and has since been in regular use by studios ranging from one man indies to the largest AAAs. It is used in course materials, cited in academic studies, and has formed the basis of industry and governmental initiatives, from game jams to funding programmes.
About the FCC’s A&I Initiative
In an effort to raise the baseline level of accessibility found in communication technologies and advanced services enabled by the Internet, the FCC has developed multiple non-regulatory approaches to elevate its efforts in achieving these instrumental goals. One of the most successful programs has been the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, which focuses on promoting collaborative problem solving among academics, industry, consumer and government sectors to achieve accessibility.