Microsoft has updated their Xbox Accessibility Guidelines and announced a brand new accessibility testing program for developers named the Game Accessibility Testing Service.
Xbox Accessibility Guidelines
In their ongoing mission of leading the way in accessibility, the Microsoft Gaming Accessibility team released the first version of the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines in early 2020. In their own words the guidelines are “a comprehensive set of best practices to support the game industry in driving accessibility efforts forward”.
After a year of collecting feedback from developers and players, the team has made considerable improvements to the guidelines. The updated guidelines now provide more clarity and guidance through an improved and goal oriented structure. Additionally, the guidelines are accompanied by background information and examples to better explain the guidelines.
Game Accessibility Testing Service
Along with the updated Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, an exciting new program is announced. The Game Accessibility Testing Service allows developers to have their Xbox and PC titles tested according to the guidelines. After testing the developer receives feedback on any issues these tests uncover. Aside from technical information to reproduce and fix issues, the feedback also contains background information to help them understand the barriers a player may face. This is a great way to help developers not only fix problems, but also understand the very real impact of accessibility. One of the most important aspects of this program is the active inclusion of gamers with disabilities in testing. Something the developers and the community will surely welcome!
More information about the work that went into new initiatives will be the subject of a talk during GAconf Europe. The event is online and takes place on Monday April 5th and Tuesday April 6th this year. More information is available on the GAconf website.