The Fred's Head Companion.
Monday, May 01, 2006.
For most gamers, the process of setting up a game and starting to play is pretty straight forward: install the game, skim over the instructions, and start playing. Unfortunately, people with disabilities find this process considerably harder.
The difficulty starts at the store. A disabled purchaser has no idea if a game is accessible to them or not. There are no ratings on the box that will indicate if the game is closed captioned or supports alternative input devices. In many cases, game ratings in the popular media do not address the accessibility issue, so for many purchasers, buying a game is very much a gamble.
After the game is installed, the player needs to often customize the settings to support their system and adaptive hardware. This is often not addressed in the documentation and most help desks have little experience dealing with these problems.
Once in the game, further problems can occur. The difficulty level may not be controllable, making it impossible for a person with mobility problems to play. Vital information may be given in cut scenes without closed captioning, making it impossible for the deaf to succeed in the game.
Unfortunately, many games fail to address the needs of a disabled gamer, and as a result prevent them from playing. The solution to this problem is to make games more accessible. The Wikipedia defines accessibility as "a general term used to describe how easy it is for people to get to, use, and understand things."
On a regular basis, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) receives requests from individuals seeking sources of accessible computer games. We did some looking around and found various commercial suppliers, as well as Internet sources, from which these can be purchased--or, in some cases, downloaded for free.
The first place to look for games for the blind is audiogames.net
This site keeps track of all the games that are accessible to the blind or visually impaired. This is also the place to find Audyssey, an electronic magazine that keeps readers up-to-date on the latest games.
The Blind Gamers Series
This web site is devoted to games specifically designed for vision-impaired and blind players.
The author has named the series of games developed especially with the blind gamer in mind, the Blind-gamers series, BG for short.
All the games in the Blind-gamers series are self-voicing, not requiring the use of your screen reader. They all use the Microsoft SAPI (Speech Applications Programming Interface) TTS (Text-To-Speech) engine for the speech component, and for the sound effects, they use Microsoft's DirectX. These components usually come with Windows XP (R) but may need to be installed or updated for Windows 98 (R).
Best of all, they are all Freeware, with no nag screens, no advertisements, no limitations of time or functionality.
Games in the Blind-gamers Series
BG Klondike Solitaire
BG Scorpion Solitaire
BG Penguin Solitaire
BG Free Cell Solitaire
To download, or learn more about these great games, please visit the blindgamers home page at:
Braingle: Brain Teasers, Puzzles, Riddles and Games
With over 7,500 brain teasers, riddles, logic problems and mind puzzles submitted and ranked by users like you, Braingle has the largest collection anywhere on the internet. Their large array of unique online multiplayer games will keep you entertained for hours. If you crave a brain teaser, mind puzzle, riddle or game, this is the place to get it. Increase your creativity, boost learning and become a better person at Braingle. Get ready to have your brain tangled!
Puzzle Daily Brain Teaser
I can be cracked,
I can be made.
I can be told,
I can be played.
What am I?
Click here to visit this game filled site:
The ADA Game
So, you're upset because your city just isn't with it when it comes to the ADA? How can you make a difference? Find out if you really can bring on changes to make the ADA stronger in your community by playing The ADA Game.
This free, online game is available to play at anytime and simulates how advocacy can promote positive changes in communities. Players take on the role of advocates for disability rights and work together to improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in their virtual communities.
After a successful login to the ADA Game, you can earn points by correctly answering questions about the ADA. The more points you earn, the more actions you can take to improve the accessibility of your virtual city. A maximum of five multiple-choice questions per day can be answered.
Work together with other advocates to improve ADA compliance and build a more accessible community
check your statistics to see how well you and your city are doing
visit the message board to chat with fellow advocates, plan strategies, and discuss ADA-related issues
take actions that promote disability awareness and advocate for accessibility.
Click here to visit the ADA Game home page, and good luck!
There are few software programs for the blind and some of them are cumbersome and difficult to use. But through a UNC computer science course called Enabling Technology, UNC students are developing programs for blind people from age 2 up. For the very young children, the programs help them learn directions and sounds. For older people, the programs can help them complete graduate research papers. Hark The Sound is a really simple sound game intended for young kids who are visually impaired, and is free for educational and fun use.
The object of the game is to name a sound or tune that is presented as a prompt. A typical round in Name That Animal goes like this:
You hear "Can you name this animal?"
Then an animal sound is played, for example a dog barking.
You use the left or right arrow keys on the keyboard to move through and hear the possible answers. In this case they might be "Cat", "Dog", "Elephant", and "Horse".
In some games, the down arrow key will give a hint about the correct answer.
When you hear the correct answer, you press the up arrow key to guess.
If the chosen answer is correct, you will hear a reward sound which might be a crowd cheering, or a musical fan fare. If the answer is incorrect, you will hear "Try again.".
The process then repeats playing another one of the sounds for the four animals.
When all the animals in the group have been played, the game begins another round with four more animals.
There are fifteen games that follow this same pattern of game play. These games include:
Braille Letters: The question is "Can you name this Braille letter?". The prompts are the dots of a letter. The answers are the letter along with a word that begins with that letter to make it easier to hear.
Braille Whole Word Contractions: The question is "Can you name this Braille whole word contraction?" The prompts are the dots in a Braille letter that is a whole word contraction. The word is the answer.
Counting: Counting repeated animal sounds for numbers one through nine.
Multiplication drills: The full multiplication table up to 12 times 12. The question is "What is this product?". The prompts are products like "2 times 3" and the answers are numbers from 0 through 144.
Name That Animal: Animal sounds are the prompts. The animal's names are the answers.
Name that capital's State: A challenging game of State Capitals. The question is "Can you name the state whose capital is...", the prompts are the names of capital cities. The answers are the names of the 50 states.
Name that Classical Tune: Midi versions of famous classical music are the prompts. The composer's name and the name of the work are included in the answer.
Name that color: The question is "What color is this?", the prompts are common objects, and the answers are their colors.
Name That Country Music Tune: Country music classics rendered in Midi. Composer and name are the answer.
Name that holiday: Identify holidays from hints.
Name that Kids Tune: Midi tunes like "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes".
Name that Rock and Roll Tune: Classic rock and roll tunes rendered in Midi with the artist and title for the answer.
Name that Sound: Environmental sounds, such as "clock ticking" and "glass breaking" are the prompts
Spelling Words: The prompt is a word spelled out. The answer is the word pronounced.
State Nick Names: A challenging game to identify the nick name for a state given its name.
To get more information about this game, including specific instructions on how to install and customize the game, follow the link below.
Click here to visit the Hark The Sound Information and Download page:
Kitchen's Inc. is a site that offers free DOS, Windows and Text to speech accessible games. Kitchen's Inc:
PCS Games. (666 Orchard Street, Temperance, MI 48182. phone (734) 850-9502). Over the past nine years, this company has Created and distributed thirty two computer games for the blind and visually impaired. PCS Games:
GMA Gmes. (245 Hillsdale Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario,Canada M4S 1T7. Phone: (416) 489-1933). They carry games designed to be fully accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals. GMA concentrates its efforts on developing Windows-based games. GMA Games:
Accessible Games. A commercial site, Accessible Games contains a large selection of popular games, including Black Jack, StarFight, WordPlay and Yahtzee.Games for the blind:
blindsoftware.com. Especially designed for blind users, BSC games is the home of Troopanum, Castle-Quest, Pipe and others. Blindsoftware:
DreamtechInteractive. (53 Grove Ave. Apartment A, Norwalk Ohio, 44857. DreamtechInteractive is a company that specializes in virtual reality games through interactive fiction. DreamtechInteractive:
Activision. (PO Box 67713, Los Angeles, California 90067. Phone: 310-255-2050). Activision carries older game collections on CD-ROM, including Infocom games. It also carries additional titles that include the Adventure Collection and the Infocom Treasure Chest. Activision:
All inPlay. This site is a unique place on the Internet where the blind, low vision, and fully sighted can play games together as equals. All in Play:
Bavisoft. (P.O.Box #8, Dewitt, NY, 13214) Bavisoft is a software company dedicated to creating software for the blind and visually impaired. BAVISOFT:
Beyond Sight, Inc. This retail site has some downloadable trivia games available. They also have a selection of games that can be played on the Braille and Speak, the Type and Speak, or the Braille Lite. Beyond Sight:
Adora Entertainment. (Phone: 1-888-235-2113). This company is the home of ESP Softworks, which focuses but is not limited to accessible games. Adora Entertainment:
The American Printing House. 1839 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY, 40206. Phone: (502) 899-2345. This company carries educational games for blind and low vision users. American Printing House:
Ark Angles is an australian company that carries a game called KChess. This chess game is accessible with a screen reader and keyboard commands. KChess Elite has lots of features to help you play better chess. You can see the pieces that have been taken, where pieces can move, who can take what, which move the computer recommends, the name of the opening (from the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings), a narration about the relative strength and position of both players and more. Ark Angles:
Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc. (551 Hosner Mountain Road, Stormville, New York 12582. Toll Free: 800-454-3175). This company carries games, aids and other vision-related assistive technology products. Ann Morris:
Ferguson Enterprises. (104 Anderson Ave. Manchester South Dakota 57353. Phone: 605-546-2366. Ferguson Enterprises carries text-based and windows based games, as well as other vision-related products. Ferguson Enterprises:
V. I. Guide. Betsy Walker's Internet site contains links to dozens of commercial and private vendors of accessible computer games. Many of the links lead to freeware sites where games can be downloaded at no charge. VI Guide:
TSBVI. The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired maintains an excellent list of games-related resources. Texas School for the Blind:
Audyssey Gaming Magazine. Required reading. This is an electronic newsletter devoted to accessible computer games for the blind and visually impaired. They also maintain a very active discussion list where game designers interact with players. Audyssey Magazine:
The Game Accessibility Project
AudioGames.net is currently participating in a project called the Game Accessibility Project. In this government-funded project a Resource & Community website on the subject of game accessibility is being built.
The field of game accessibility reaches further than just blind-accessible games. There's a variety of one-switch games out there, games that can be played with one key only and therefore are very accessible for gamers with limited physical abilities. One-switch games are often quite simple to understand and therefore very suitable for gamers with learning disabilities.
Recently, the field of mobile gaming discovered the strength of these games and are exploring the possibilities to implement such games on mobile phones.
The goals of the project are:
to inform gamers with disabilities about the availability of accessible games; to provide resources for developers, publishers and researchers; to raise awareness of game accessibility; to gain more knowledge on accessible game design;
Click this link to visit the Game Accessibility Project website:
Most of this record is reprinted from Micro Materials Update 12 (1996): 10. Malcolm Turner and Maria Delgado update it periodically to accomodate the passage of time. Some new links were added and some dead links were removed.
posted by Michael McCarty.
End of article.
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