Practical Accessible Game Development


Eleanor Robinson, 7-128 Software LLC

The three quick fixes to make software more accessible, self voice, caption, and single button controls

Person's Notes

There are over 94 million people in the United States that need some kind of accommodation to play a computer game.

Alicia Verlager's Notes

practical game development

We are developing accessible games; how do we do it?

7-1228 is a small company; we were 7 ppl when we started it, now we are down to 5.

This is what we have for the number of ppl who are affected with a condition which prevents [them from using a standard computer interface]

94 million in the US.

This includes ppl with many kinds of disability: blind, color blind, deaf or hearing loss, mobility impairment, mental impairment.

all of you may at some time be involved in this statistic, as we all age.

More and more aging baby boomers mean rising statistics.

Discussion of age-related vision and hearing loss, including how contrast colors need to be sharpened and how higher range sounds become more difficult to hear.

Mobility impairment includes arthritis , Parkinson's, repetitive stress disorder, MS, or a temporarily sprained or broken arm.

three easy things to do in a game design to make it more accessible

1. Add self-voicing (also referred to as text-to-speech, TTS, and SAPI

- refer to wikipedia page ),

which You can get free.

For TTS/SAPI, use a voice throttle [a way for the user to speed up speech and filter how much speech s/he gets].

People who are use to listening to tts want to speed it up, and experienced users need less speech once the are familiar with the game interface.

2. Add captions.

Captioning not just videos and spoken dialogue, but also for important sounds. Ex: duck walks across screen while quacking; caption should read "Quack."

3. Single most important step for any user with a mobility impairment: don't chord, don't use more than one key to do an action.

Why? Because their may be an accomadation where the person can't press multiple keys.

[this is also true of blind users who may have to memorize keyboard commands].

Why did we decide to make accessible games?

Discussion of gamers with disabilities being under-served b mainstream games whil also representing a large demographic, and growing.

Also, allows game developers to feel good about themselves.

We rate our games accordingt to the accomadation we use; not ever game can be made accessibilit to all users, and

if a game's very nature is not going to work with certain accomadations we don't want to change the nature of the game.

There are two types of text- to-speech : self-voiceing and screen readers [a third part software program which blind and visually-impaired users have installed on their computers already, tpically Jaws or WindowEes for Windows, though there are a few Mac and Linux options, not as popular].

In considering what should be spoken aloud, you need to make sure you aren't also speaking things that are not available on the screen, such as disabled controls.

You need to speek things that convey context.

You need to speak that you are in the d box [in other words, you need to sa where the focus is].

People who use voice control [speech-to-text] want to say words rather than hot keys [words are easier to remember].

That's something we learned to late and can't retro-fit.

Dragon Naturally Speaking [the most widely-used voice program] allows ppl to speak and control the activity of the games.

Screen magnifiers include Zoom Text or go to www.screen

[alternate source ]


large text this is one becomes extremely imp for everyone to think about

as we get older are vision deteriorates

16 point type as our normal type or 20 [point type

high contrast settings dont' use serif too fancy don't show

use interface adaptations

items clumped in a single area and not scattered across screen

allt he controls should be available in to a magnifier

user interface should be consistent between screens because context is extremely important

some motion impairments need big buttons others ned small clustered buttons

think as you design your interface

color spectrum critical controls should not be color dependent

color blindness is common

there are color spectrum lists color spectrum

Make a difference in the shape or texture or some aspect to distinguish

red-green is the most common color blindness

captioning its nto just words that are spoken but also sounds that are significant "The door opens behind you"

Age-related hearing loss especially in higher frequency

Ear and eye candy to make the game more interestingtalk about sounds sight smells involve all the senses

so the person can just see the things clearly but also for those who have vision loss

a richer environment

how do you design those things?

Fromt he ground up

It adds twenty percent to time and effort to include these combinations and you must think about it from beginning of design stage: what accomadations, what kind of game makes sense

is it worth it yes when you consider 94 million potential more customers

if it is going to badly affect the game you are going to design, don't include that game


you need hooks for assistive software - if you are going to make it compatible with Dragon or Jaws we use Java Access

you also need to look at the user interface

graphic materials and audio descriptions you have to include them in order to make up for loss of…

make them as rich as you can

navigation is extremely imp. consistent and context informative

special help

you need to develop help for those using some accomadations such as Jaws so that they can find out how to work

they know how to work their device but they don\'t knwo how it works on your game

Take aways

test for each modality

plan on revision its a iterative process

we made over fifty changes as a result of these reviews

makes you feel good about yourself, gives your company a good name, more sales

Dragon speech recog

game throttle that changes the speed fo things

Excited about: PIZZA GAMES - Coming This Fall

Educational letter, number and word games for Pre-Schoolers, Ages 2 to 6

also see free downloads:
DarkKeyboard is a simple program that speaks each key on your keyboard as you type including the strange keys.

Dark Timer

downloads and resources page


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