Xbox celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) by reflecting on numerous achievements.
In an official Xbox Wire post, Anita Mortaloni, director of accessibility at Xbox shared work that the company “has done in partnership with the disability community.” She highlights that the company is “intentional about our focus on accessibility throughout the year.”
This includes Xbox fostering inclusive communities, connections, and support, bringing people from the disability community in on projects from the start, and being committed to innovation and working with the community to do so. The Xbox post then goes on to celebrate GAAD by highlighting the following.
The post then goes into highlighting specific projects, such as BuildAbility. This is an in-game world for Minecraft: Education Edition and has been made in collaboration with “the Peel District School Board in Ontario, Canada.” The world’s purpose is detailed as one that “promotes inclusive design thinking and problem solving rooted in empathy and social emotional learning.”
Xbox ASL Twitch Channel
There’s a dedicated American Sign Language (ASL) channel on Twitch for Xbox which launched in April 2022. This Twitch channel has been created in partnership with Sorenson, and provides ASL interpretation for “approximately 25 hours of live streams each week.”
Xbox Accessibility Insider League (XAIL)
The Xbox Accessibility Insider League has reportedly grown to more than 163,000 members since May 2021. This Insider League allows people with disabilities to provide direct feedback to the relevant teams on a project. Additionally, XAIL is partnering up with the Windows Insider Program to share new accessibility features planned for Windows 11. Those interested can sign up and get involved with the Xbox Insider Hub on Xbox consoles or PC.
Xbox Accessibility Guidelines
The Xbox Wire post details the Accessibility Guidelines that have been updated this month to 3.0 to include new mental health guidelines. The XAGs also provide guidance on reducing motion sickness, on-screen text legibility, contrast, and input guidelines with new examples and implementation details to boot.
Gaming Accessibility Resource Hub
Xbox has worked with the gaming and disability community as well as subject matter experts at United, Unreal, and Coherent to update the Gaming Accessibility Resource Hub. This resource provides gaming accessibility guidance in one stop including training, talks, testing tools, and popular game engines. It’s said that this resource will be regularly updated.
Gaming Accessibility Fundamentals Learning Path
This free course was announced during the tail end of last year and comes with 5-modules that cover a range of topics related to video game accessibility and more. These include learning how to “collaborate with the disability community, assistive hardware and software technologies and best practices for developing gaming hardware.”
Searching for Accessible Games
Also brought up in the post are the Accessibility Tags available on the Xbox Store that were announced last year. This feature allows users to find games that have one of more of the 20 accessibility tags available. There are now 400 titles tagged, and over 100 of those have five or more tags.
In addition, users can now search and then filter games by one or more tags, a new feature that was developed with community feedback.
Console and platform accessibility features
Xbox consoles and platforms have been getting updates packed with accessibility as well. Brought up in the post is the update that introduced audio accessibility for system sound effects. An update that allows the user to remap the share button to over 22 commands was detailed as well, and the option to “increase size and add tooltips for remapping on the Xbox Adaptive Controller.”
Forza Horizon 5 Sign Language Interpretation
An industry-first was also noted, and it was regarding the addition of British and American Sign Language in Forza Horizon 5. This accessibility feature introduces sign language interpretation to over 100 in-game cutscenes. To discuss the importance of the feature, Playground Games sat down with Can I Play That? to share more information about what went into creating it.
In addition to the Forza Horizon 5 mention, Xbox shared that during the month of May and to celebrate GAAD, Microsoft Reward points can be earned by unlocking any achievements in the game. Players then get the option to donate them to organizations SpecialEffect and Players Outreach.