Every third Thursday of May marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a campaign designed to promote inclusivity for the more than one billion people around the world who live with disabilities or impairments.
To commemorate GAAD 2023, both PlayStation and Xbox have outlined a variety of accessibility initiatives that they’ve taken on. Here’s a breakdown.
At CES in January, Sony unveiled ‘Project Leonardo,’ an accessibility controller kit for PlayStation 5. For GAAD 2023, PlayStation has published a blog post to further detailing the device, which is now simply called ‘Access.’
Designed in collaboration with accessibility experts, the Access is an accessibility controller kit with a slew of options to let users customize the experience to their particular needs. This includes a variety of swappable button and stick caps, such as:
- Analog stick caps (standard, dome and ball stick cap)
- Button caps in different shapes and sizes, including (pillow button caps, flat button caps, wide flat button cap, overhang button caps and curve button caps)
- Swappable button cap tags for players to easily mark which inputs they map to each button
Sony says players can also use the Access on both flat surfaces and via an AMPS mount or tripod, as well as adjust the analogue stick’s distance from the controller. Further, the Access controller sports four 3.5mm AUX ports to let players add their own switches, buttons and the like. This would help users with their own special 3D-printed accessories,
PlayStation also published a video to reveal more information on the Access, including behind-the-scenes looks at its creation. You can check out the video here.
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day! We honor our community’s commitment to accessible and inclusive gaming, which enhances the power of connection and play.
When everybody plays, we all win: https://t.co/osvcxbrpPD
— Xbox (@Xbox) May 18, 2023
Over the past several years, Xbox has been spearheading accessibility efforts through games like Forza Horizon 5 and Psychonauts 2, as well as its own Adaptive Controller.
For GAAD 2023, the company has made several more moves, including:
- Expanded accessibility support pages to detail more than 150 accessibility features, settings, and controls available console and PC
- New accessibility settings on the Xbox App on PC, such as the ability to disable background images and animations that could bother those with visual impairments
- An update to the Microsoft Store on Xbox.com that adds 20 filters through which players can search for games based on their specific accessibility needs and preferences, as well as over 17 supported languages
Other Xbox accessibility offerings include the Xbox Accessibility Ambassador Explorer Path, which lets Xbox Ambassadors learn about accessibility through minigames, and additional guidance in the Microsoft Game Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS) to teach developers and publishers how to add Game Accessibility Feature Tags to their games. Xbox says more than one million in-game missions have been completed through the Ambassador Explorer Path, while those with disabilities have logged over 13,000 hours in the MGATS program.
Of course, PlayStation and Xbox aren’t the only gaming companies pushing for accessibility. For more on accessibility in gaming, check out our interviews with Eidos Montreal (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy), Naughty Dog (The Last of Us Part 1), Sony Santa Monica (God of War: Ragnarök) and Canadian accessibility consultant Steve Saylor. Back in October, a variety of game developers from the likes of Ubisoft also took part in the conference #a11yTO Gaming to promote accessibility — read more on that here.
Additionally, check out the official GAAD website for a variety of resources. You can also go to Apple and Google‘s respective websites for breakdowns of the accessibility features they offer. For more gaming accessibility resources, visit Saylor’s website, Can I Play That?, AbleGamers and DAGER System.
Image credit: PlayStation