Xbox Details Its Expanded Accessibility Efforts For Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Xbox has launched an ASL Twitch channel and has even brought ASL/BSL to Forza Horizon 5.
To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Xbox has outlined efforts it is undertaking in order to promote "digital access and inclusion" for over 400 million players with disabilities.
In a post on Xbox Wire, Anita Mortaloni, Xbox's Director of Accessibility, discussed the pillars on which the company is promising to build on in order to make inroads with the disability community. Xbox's three pillars are:
- fostering inclusive communities, connections, and support
- enabling accessible design and development
- continually investing in accessibility
"Nothing should come between players and the games they love, which is why we are dedicated to finding accessibility solutions that help eliminate barriers to play and make it easier to connect with others," Mortaloni writes, before diving into more explicit ways Xbox is achieving its accessibility goals.
In order to foster more inclusive communities for example, an accessibility-themed world is launching this month in Minecraft: Education Edition called BuildAbility. Students who play it will be able to "explore barriers experienced by people with disabilities by meeting an array of characters who reflect our real world and learn how to identify and eliminate accessibility barriers in their school and community." The whole project is in collaboration with the Peel District School Board in Ontario, Canada and is just one of Xbox's efforts on this front.
Xbox has also launched an American Sign Language Twitch channel which will offer "interpretation for approximately 25 hours of livestreams each week" for its livestream team. Additionally, it announced that the Xbox Accessibility Insiders League (XAIL), a way by which players with disabilities or allies can report accessibility feedback to the Xbox team, has grown to over 163,000 members, and that the Windows Insider Program will now also have accessibility features in Windows 11 preview builds.
To best enable accessible design and development, Xbox has updated their accessibility guidelines to include a new mental health guideline and additional guides for, among other things, reducing motion sickness and on-screen text legibility. It has also launched the Gaming Accessibility Resource Hub in conjunction with the disabled community and experts at Unity's Unreal and Coherent team, with the goal of the hub being to assist developers "in all stages of their game’s accessibility journey."
Xbox also took the time to tout its free five-module course that offers a rundown of accessibility topics including the fundamentals of accessibility, assistive hardware and software, and how to best develop gaming hardware with accessibility in mind.
Finally, Xbox doubled down on its commitment to accessibility by announcing a host of accessibility features being brought to Forza Horizon 5, including ASL and British Sign Language, as well as modifications to game speed and a color blindness mode. The post also makes mention of Xbox's accessibility tag that was added last fall to help find accessible games more easily on its store, and an expansion on console and platform accessibility features like the ability to remap the share button to over 22 different buttons or muting the console UI.
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