Who your gifts enable: A message from Meridith Bradford

Meridith Bradford3 minute read

My name is Meridith Bradford and I have been an editor with DAGERSystem since February 2022. I am from New Jersey and a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree focusing in Sport Management. Having been born with cerebral palsy, I was not able to play sports in the traditional way growing up, but they have always been a huge part of my life.

One of the many ways that I found to be involved was to start playing sports video games at a very young age. Through these games, I taught myself the fundamentals of several major sports and I always thoroughly enjoyed the fact that games gave me the ability to take control of the action and move the players the way that I envisioned they should go. Over the years, I have loved watching the line between sports and gaming blur and even branch into other game genres, such as fighting games.

My introduction to DAGERSystem

During the virtual Abilities Expo in 2021, I received an email about an upcoming panel focusing on video game accessibility and was immediately interested. Upon hearing Josh Straub speak about DAGERSystem and its mission to educate disabled gamers and their support systems about the accessibility of games, there were so many things that I could relate to on such a personal level.

As technology advanced, I got to a point where I wanted all my games to be digital, so that I did not have to rely on anyone to change games for me and I could switch freely during one session between anything in my collection. Even though this fixed one barrier, I was always skeptical of spending money on a new game and not being sure whether I could physically play it. It is for this reason that the consumer protection aspect of DAGERSystem’s game reviews specifically focused on accessibility really intrigued me.

After hearing Josh speak, I sent him an email introducing myself and explaining that his work is really something that I valued. I asked if there was any way I could help out and that email began a conversation that would lead to me becoming one of the freelancers.

The importance of employment

Employment is a very important part of gaining independence and for professionals with severe physical disabilities, there are some additional barriers and logistics that need to be considered. From the first phone call I had with Josh, I could tell that he understood this and was willing to work with me to find a way I could help advance the work of DAGERSystem utilizing my strengths.

For the first time in my professional career, it felt like my disability was going to help me to perform my job better, rather than hinder me. To this point, I have focused my journalistic reviews on sports games and writing specifically to talk about the experience of playing them through the lens of accessibility really feels like I am helping to create something that I wish existed when I was younger.

It is my hope that my articles, along with those of the rest of the staff, are able to make progress towards three main objectives: help disabled gamers have the best gaming experience possible, shine a light on the importance of accessibility in the overall gaming industry and finally demonstrate that professionals with severe physical disabilities have unique skill sets that can positively contribute to countless industries.

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