As our world continues to grow virtually and the opportunities to learn, connect and play in the virtual world seem limitless, individuals with disabilities continue to face barriers of entry due to inaccessible technologies. Oak Hill works to eliminate those barriers and create equality in gaming for people with disabilities.
Given the vast number of gamers with disabilities across the nation, Oak Hill provides a unique service to the gamers throughout Connecticut. Our adaptive gaming services include adaptive gaming consultations, adaptive technology lending library and a mobile gaming center where players can gather to try out adaptive gaming equipment, experience gaming with peers and non-disabled gamers can learn about the importance of adaptive gaming equipment. Oak Hill has been providing these adaptive gaming services since 2019.
What is Gaming Accessibility? "Gaming" is a word used to describe all things involved with video games, and gaming accessibility is the process of making the playing of a video game accessible to people who play them (gamers) with disabilities. Through the services discussed above, NEAT professionals can help gamers with disabilities get back into the game.
To achieve gaming accessibility, a gamer might just need to choose a specific option available within the game's options, or maybe they need a specific controller, or some combination of the two. This is just the beginning, the needs of gamers with disabilities are just as diverse and unique as the gamers themselves. NEAT can help gamers with disabilities and their families discover the best way for them to play.
If you are interested in these services, please contact Kristen Gilfeather, Assistive Technology Specialist at Kristen.Gilfeather@oakhillct.org.
Want to learn more? Check out our recent feature on the Pulse of the Region Podcast!
Play Consultations are for gamers with disabilities who are looking to find a better way enjoy their favorite game(s) despite their disability. For this consultation, the gamer’s gaming needs will be assessed from all angles. This process can take into account, for example, stamina, comfort, as well as personal preferences. After, the game(s) of interest as well as method of play will be analyzed leading to an exploration of in-game options and alternate controllers as well as controller schemes that will improve the gamer’s future gaming experiences.
Design Consultations are for game developers looking to improve the accessibility of their game. Kristen and other NEAT team members as necessary will put any one game through a quality assurance process, testing it for its accessibility. The results of that process can be discussed in person and/or through a written report complete with recommendations.
Play and Learns are a fun and interactive service where gamers or those interested in gaming can play some games while they and the ones supporting them learn about gaming accessibility. Play and Learns are not meant to meet individual needs of gamers with disabilities or developers, but rather provide a space to learn about accessibility in gaming on a macro level. Participants will have a chance to see and use some adaptive gaming equipment first hand and learn about what sort of gamers the tools could support.
A Play and Learn can have many appearances and it depends on the need! Below are some examples. A Play and Learn can include a:
- Workshop with professionals from any field looking to learn more about gaming accessibility. This might fit a conference type environment, for example, with some presentation and some play by attendees.
- Get together where gamers and/or professionals play games while learning about their accessibility features and accessible ways to play them. This could take place at a K-12 school, for instance.
- Station or table at an event where participants and their guardians/caregivers can come by to play some games and learn what accessible tools are available for their family.