I just read your white paper, and it was definitely a good read.
Although, it focused on vidio game accessibility this is actually an
issue that effects all software products and developers equally. Far
too many software manufacturers create a certain software product, and
then only add accessibility to the software as an after thought.
Usually the claim is that adding accessibility costs to much.
However, as your white paper clearly pointed out the Baby Boomer
generation, those whith the majority of the money, are getting older,
are becoming disabled themselves, and could use accessible software
more than ever. This is where some companies like Apple are way ahead
of the Windows PC market in terms of a universal accessibility
framework. Not only does Mac OS 10.6 come with a decent screen reader
built into the operating system the entire accessibility framework of
the operating system has been completely designed in such a way that
any application written using the official Apple APIs and programming
standards should be fairly accessible out of the box, and adding that
accessibility doesn't cost the developer more time and effort to make
the software that way as the accessibility is included into Mac's
toolkits, APIs, etc.
As I see it as a game developer the same kind of strategy can be used
in producing accessible vidio games. A lot of vidio games out there
are built using a fully qualified game engine. If they took the time
to add text to speech support, closed captioning, and one-handed mode
to the engine itself any future games built using that engine could
use those accessibility features without much added time and expense
in developing the games themselves. However, the game companies have
to make a reasonable effort to add the accessibility into the game
engine itself before they produce the game/games. If they do that the
cost of development will be spread out over the entire population of
disabled and non-disabled gamers.
One problem is, as I personally see it, is the colleges and
universities themselves are not pushing for better accessibility
standards. Instead they will teach a new programmer the basics of
programming using Java, C++, Visual Basic .Net, whatever but there is
no discussion on ways to make an application accessible to someone
with any kind of disability. Therefore there is a large majority of
programmers out there completely unaware of products like Jaws,
Window-Eyes, Zoom Text, etc, and most of them don't have any idea how
to go about making a program accessible in the first place.
So from my point of view we really should start with the class room
and teach new programmers how to make software accessible as they are
learning. Get them when they are young and just starting out. Teach
them the fundimentals of accessibility before they go to work for
Activision, EA Games, or go into business for themselves.
On 5/28/10, Eleanor <elea...@7128.com> wrote:
> As a developer who is interested in making accessible games, I read all
> you folks had to say about what you want in audiogames. Yes, it would
> be great if these kinds of games would be available. The problem as I
> see it is that it is not only not economically feasible to do these
> kinds of games, it is basically impossible without a far larger market
> than the number of blind and visually impaired gamers that are presently
> around. That said, there is a possible answer.
> I just got back from the Games For Health conference where I presented
> at the Accessibility Day track. What I was talking about is that as
> people age, the percent of those with one or more disability increases
> dramatically. Over 40% of the over 65 year olds reported one or more
> disability in the past US census. I don't know what the new census will
> show and it probably won't be available until 2014. That has the
> potential to increase the number of people who would be interested in
> audio games. Stephanie from the AbleGamers Foundation and I did a white
> paper that shows the potential lost revenue game developers are facing
> in the next five years if they don't make games accessible. You can
> read the paper on our website, www.7128.com.
> Also, there was a workshop at the conference that Philip Benefal was
> supposed to participate in via telephone/skype, and the Internet
> connection went down just before the workshop so the leader couldn't
> contact Philip. The topic that was being discussed was audio game
> development on mobile devices that could be used by people who are
> exercising to make the time fly by and encourage more time exercising.
> These obviously would be simple games both because of the platform
> limitations and the fact you don't want the depth of involvement you get
> in a game like Entombed. BUT - and this is the BIG thing that might
> come from this type of game development, if you get sighted players
> interested in and willing to buy audio games you have just magically
> increased your market considerably. If you have a large enough market,
> you can get a company to invest the type of money it takes to do a game
> like you want - to have the 30 - 40 people working on it for a couple of
> years. To have the up-front money to hire actors, get good sound
> effects and do the work it takes to produce a top notch title.
> This means that the potential is there to get what you want - but not
> right away! It will take time for aging gamers to begin to explore what
> is available to them when they can no longer play the games they are
> used to. And - the information will have to be available to them so
> they can find the audio alternative. It will also take time to interest
> a large number of sighted folk in audio games. They will have to be
> made, promoted and be good enough to compete with visual games.
> In the meantime - if we don't support the developers that are making
> accessible games, they will get discouraged and close up shop.
> Eleanor Robinson
> 7-128 Software
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