The Forza Horizon 5 sign language update will be available for players on March 1, 2022.
Playground Games has announced that Forza Horizon 5 will be getting its sign language update next month. This update will see American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters being displayed on-screen over 150 scenes and a more in-depth post on Microsoft explains the feature’s story.
Forza Horizon 5 launched in November of 2021 and scored highly in CIPT’s accessibility review, however at that time, the sign language feature was not available. Playground Games sat down with CIPT to discuss the game in an interview and detailed the reason for the feature coming post-launch was to ensure the scripted content was locked in place.
The post shares a bit about Cameron Akitt, a consultant who was invited to Playground Games early on in the game’s development where the idea for incorporation of the feature was decided. Kitt, whose second language is BSL, said “Having a human being on the screen explaining those elements in a person’s native language (sign language in this case) is a different dynamic that breaks new ground.”
For Xbox Game Studios accessibility lead, Tara Voelker, she led the inclusive workshop at Playground for Forza Horizon 5 where Akitt was brought in, and it was that workshop that “set the tone for the entire product going forward” with Playground baking accessibility into the development process she said.
More information about this feature was shared through a video, which you can find below.
The studio sought out and researched deaf talent for auditions to help cast the actors for the scenes that required sign language interpretation. Then an interpreter was needed to communicate with that cast and crew, and a consultant was needed to ensure the signing was up to standard. It’s detailed that the studio “constantly consulted with the deaf and hard of hearing community”
The post also details a few experiences with the feature from those at Microsoft with software engineer, Michael Anthony, who is fluent in ASL, saying that he was able to become “more involved in the game, clued into the tone of voice and enthusiasm of the voice actors in the game through the talents of the sign language actors.”
Microsoft’s chief accessibility officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie who is deaf, is also included and talked about how, for her, “captions are never going to convey the depth, semantics, emotions and excitement that come from spoken language.” Lay-Flurrie explained “There are so many people with disabilities and people who are deaf. And, there are a lot of closed doors every day. And what I mean by that is that we are consistently and constantly dealing with inequities that exist.” She continued, “The fact that I can just be on the same level playing field as them means I’m not focused on a closed door”
The Forza Horizon 5 update is due to land on March 1, 2022, and will be free.