Accessible Video Games

January 29, 2011

I’m so happy that some game developers are thinking about making their controls and gameplay modes customizable, because this is what is needed in order to adapt controllers for gamers with disabilities.

Hardcore gamers also frequently ask for customizable controls (hardcore gamers are a notoriously difficult demographic to please). You can accommodate disabled gamers by doing the very thing that the most abled gamers want anyway! It’s a win across the board.

What makes the games in this post exceptional is that they are both console games, not PC games. Video game consoles are traditionally very limited in their flexibility, and unlike a PC, cannot run the user’s custom software to assist with accessibility.

MLB 11 custom Dualshock controller

Two examples listed below.

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Nugent Residence Hall at U of I Urbana-Champaign is designed for students with disabilities.

Their web site. (Note that this and all websites of the Disability Resources and Educational Services for the University are screen-reader compliant for those using alternative access.)

This is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. This is really beyond just “accommodation” and taking it to the next level of full inclusion into society.

Aimee Mullins at TEDMED

March 12, 2010

I just can’t get enough Aimee Mullins, it seems.

Here she is at TEDMED along with an interview with CNN.

Aimee Mullins

Who needs legs when you look like this?

And some other entries I’ve blogged about her:

the Oscar goes to…

March 8, 2010

Music by Prudence

Oscar for best short-subject documentary.


This got a little more attention at the Oscars since one of the producers “pulled a Kanye” on the director as he was giving his acceptance speech. (Also, how funny is it that Kanye is now part of the lexicon for someone who upstages someone accepting an award?)

I’ll come back and edit if I find out when this documentary will be shown on TV in the U.S.

This goes in the design and society blog because it really shows how far we’ve come in our attitudes toward disability. Prosthetic legs used to be designed to conceal the fact that they were prosthetic. Never mind that their design wasn’t much good for anything except sitting down and looking “normal.”

Ellie May’s prosthetics don’t look like natural human legs at all and they don’t have to! They are her legs. We judge them based on their function, not appearance. They let her walk and play like her peers, without the hindering pretense of hiding her disability. We don’t have to do that anymore.

I’ll bet in the near future we are going to see more designs that serve useful functions without being tied to traditional forms. However, it is hard to break free of doing things the way we always have (I should know; it’s what we are trying to do with communication systems at Penn State right now.)

Disabilities in Pop Culture

February 20, 2009

Esquire has a list that I’m not sure if I should be amused or offended by.

“The Five Most Incredible Physically Disabled Action Movie Heroes”

It is a little surprising to me that Zatoichi, the Blind Samurai is not on this list.

So, in addition to my usual PhD stuff keeping me from updating this blog, I’ve also been dealing with a broken rib that I sustained in a bike crash.


This causes me extreme pain whenever I

  • move
  • lay down
  • sit up
  • switch from any of laying down, sitting up, or standing to any of the others.
  • sneeze (oh my God, especially when I sneeze)
  • reach for anything with my right hand (like my mouse or keyboard)

Lessons learned from this experience:

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