Show and Yell

Image of a rat holding a radar listening device in front of a red spiral. Intended to represent previously anti-accessibility game developers starting to prick up their ears. No offence re. the rat - just liked the Banksy picture.I had a really enjoyable evening on Friday at the "Show and Yell" event run by Pixel-Lab. In a packed room, various indie game developers spoke of their passions in gaming and talked about their latest work.

Absolute highlight of the evening for me was when Rob Fearon took to the mic'. He spoke with a soft voice and powerful words. He asked those who gave thought to accessibility in their games to raise their hands. About five hands were proudly raised including my own.

To inspire the majority with their hands down into future action, Rob explained how each of the accessibility features in his game Squid Harder took about ten minutes to add. These include subtitles, consideration for colour-blind players and a one-switch facility.

Robert concluded by pressing home that adding accessibility options does not break a game, nor ruin the experience. As a player, if you don't want to use the features, no one is forcing you to, but don't deny them from those who need them. Simple really? Thank you, Rob for having the courage to stand up for what is right in our world of video gaming. I feel like this message is slowly getting though. One day EA, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and the likes will hear it and act on it consistantly.


Doll Face


The Last Man On Earth (1964)


Computer Woes

Image of Mr. Worry, a blue cartoon character with a furrowed brow. More slow downs and delays thanks to my HP laptop in for its second repair this year and second full system reinstall. Normal service will resume eventually...


What's For Dinner, Mr Gum?

Image of Greasy Ian and Mr. Gum scoffing a manky rancid looking kebab."Well, Shabba me whiskers! Mr Gum's Back! But what's he up to this time? Oh, dreadful things my friends, dreadful things indeed. Seems he's found himself a brand new treat - rancid kebabs just dripping with grey sauce. And he just can't get enough of them. He's gotta have more! More! LESS! I mean, MORE! But not everyones too happy with Mr Gum's new dinnertime arrangements and soon the town of Lamonic Bibber is gearing up for war. Can Polly and her friends save the town from being torn apart? Will Mr Gum's hunger ever be satisfied? And who on earth is Thora Gruntwhistle?"

Just finished reading this to my daughter, I'm so happy that she's still not too old for Mr. Gum! Great book, with a wonderful bonus story that explains just about everything about the world's present financial woes in a way that will make you smile.

I plan to build an accessible stories area for the Ideas section in the near future. Coming very soon will be the "4 Pete's Sake" utility by William Pilgrim developed to give one switch users more control over Power Point presentations. Take a look at Pete Well's superb "Pete's Stuff" story presentations meanwhile to see what will be more accessible soon to switch users.


4Noah VCS

William Pilgrim has created a 4Noah utility aimed at making a number of Atari VCS (aka 2600) games playable with the SPACE BAR alone. Set an accessibility switch to this and you can make games, that were never designed to be, one-switch accessible.

Asteroids can be played in a few different ways. One way would be where you tap your switch to adjust your aim whilst auto-fire is locked on. It can also be played as a game of chicken, with your switch set to hyperspace, whilst 4Noah VCS triggers constant firing and rotation.

Bowling with 4Noah VCS allows you to aim, throw and even adjust your aim once the ball has been thrown.

Combat allows you to battle with Bi-planes or Jets using a single switch against a second human opponent.

Space Invaders allows you to play alone one-switch style and even co-operatively with a second player helping you to destroy the invaders.

All this doesn't just open up previously inaccessible games to some disabled gamers. It also offers a fun way to bring a new challenge to old games. For more late 70's early 80's nostalgia I've knocked up a little accompanying Spotify music playlist. For more William Pilgrim work, please visit the fledgling 4Noah Laboratory.

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Stylophone Beatbox


Andy Williams and Pearl Bailey


Skoog on tour in London

Black and white line drawing of a computer generated model of a Skoog. The Skoog and Skoogmusic will be at the TES Special Needs London 2009 event this weekend. Grab a free pass for Friday or Saturday there and then or via the web up front. See and hear one in the flesh and you'll start to understand just how empowering this revolutionary instrument is.

If you would like to purchase a Skoog, please e-mail me for further information, pending the launch of the OneSwitch Accessible Music Shopping Arcade.


Push Button Receive Bacon

Image of two separate symbols. One of a person's hand pressing a push button with the text underneath reading 'Push Button' The second of a person's a hand underneath three wavey red lines with the text 'Receive Bacon' underneath. Originally explanation for using a hand-dryer. Found on web somewhere...

One Switch Football

Image of Michael Caine and Bobby Moore in 1981 at a charity bash linked to the classic football film Escape to Victory. One Switch Football is a new addition to the sports games section from the talented William Pilgrim. This is a fun little game inspired by Switch Soccer, but improved greatly by more realistic play. I'm hoping a time element can be introduced to this game to bring a greater sense of urgency.

After a two-player version? Well nothing as of yet, but Will Donegan of Special Effect shared with me a really good two button version of Table Football (aka Foosball): Ladbrookes Miniball. The menu is mouse based only (boo) but this is pretty good. Would love to see a full screen one-switch version for one or two players.

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"Destroy The Space Invader"

Scientist Meets the Space Invaders - cartoon image from a 1981 Dub album. I love Space Invaders. It's simple, but the appeal never quite goes away. There's always a bit of time each year when I'll sit down and have a go in one form or another. Happy to be able to share with you a couple of one-switch Space Invader clones of quality...

Alienated by William Pilgrim is a heavily retro styled version of Space Invaders. If you have the reactions this is a mighty-fine version. Great sound and a really good feel.

Invasion Force by Graeme Singh is a superb alternative version too. This one has some highly reconfigurable settings to make the difficulty level suit your ability. I recommend making it hard for your self, just like the real thing was when you first played it.

There are lots of alternative accessible Space Invader games worth a look too including "Space Invaders for the Blind" and "Access Invaders".

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Yahoo Auctions Japan

Image of a HORI Separate controller advert in Japanese. Yahoo's Japanese Auction site is the eBay of Japan, and a fertile source of obscure controllers. It's the place that I first discovered the HORI Separate controller pictured above, and my first port of call when trying to track down the super-rare ASCII Grip V2 controllers.

So, in the spirit of sharing, this is my advice for those wanting to track down rare Japanese accessible controllers:

1. Install Google's web browser toolbar, then enable the "Translate" tool. This will help you to get a rough translation of auction item quality in English-ish.
2. Set up a PayPal account.
3. Set up a Japanese Auction Agency (JAA) account. JAA will bid on items on your behalf, deal with the seller, receive the item, the repackage and send to your address. I highly recommend this helpful and professional company.
4. Have a mooch around Yahoo Auctions Japan. Copy and paste the following Kanji into the Yahoo Auctions search text box to further assist: Ascii/Sammy Grip V2 (グリップV2); HORI Super Robot Wars (スーパーロボット大戦コントローラ); HORI Separate Controller (セパレートコントローラ); HORI Fighting Stick (ファイティングスティック). Alternatively you may find stuff on your local Amazon.
5. If you find something you like, and can afford (use for a currency conversion) go back to your JAA account, make a deposit, then carefully step through their auction buying service.

Bare in mind that a lot of Japanese sellers seem to go for short auctions of 3 to 5 days, so check regularly if you are keen. Also take into account any additional customs charges you may incur if the item is expensive. Good luck!

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Fauteuil robotisé pour enfant en bas âge

Via: RNT APF's "Les Infos Flash" blog.

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Shark Attack Soaker

For those trying to track down a switch accessible water pistol, they'll know that it's not an easy thing to do at the minute. I've long sold out of the X-Blaster that Homebase were selling for a while, however...

A D.I.Y. alternative exists for the moment for those in North America on eBay and Amazon. The Banzai "Shark Attack Soaker" looks to be almost identical to the X-Blaster. Follow my D.I.Y. guide to make switch accessible for soaking fun on a warm day.


Links Lucky Dip

Image of Bingo balls.Another list of fine accessibility links for you to pick through like foxes rooting around my bin bags. Find the juicy bits that appeal, whilst I try to find a more pleasant metaphor for next time...

A Sliding Puzzle for Helen: Use your own images, have them jumbled up, then put them back again using a single switch.

Ropor: A rope swinging game where you hold your switch to build momentum, tap to let-go and tap to grab a new point. Retro one-switch goodness. This and Sliding Puzzle are both finally hosted at the OneSwitch library.

The Shivah: A great point-and-click adventure game where you play a disillusioned Rabbi. It's not expensive (it was free for a weekend) and with a bit of tweaking via the "WINSETUP.EXE" file you can play within a window with dwell-clickers. I recommend setting your desktop to the lowest resolution to make the game screen as big as you can. I wish there were more diverse games like this. Story lines in mainstream games are a bit dull these days.

RNT's "Les Infos Flash" Blog: Some really good posts lately relating to switch access including: The PapooSwitch a light to no touch switch; A Scanning Mouse that looks like an easy to understand way of controlling the mouse pointer using a single switch; Switch adapted toys for Babies and Tots.

Playing With a Facial Mouse: Javier Mairena has posted news of a face tracking device at AbleGamers. Free for PC use. Looks good.

1969: Tomorrow's World programme featuring what must have been the first ever one-switch game (around 2 minutes 40 on the video). A note plays, as soon as it stops you hit the switch. Try to beat your fastest time. We used to play this at school when very bored with our first stop watches. Thank goodness for progress!

Skoogmusic: The first public-wide demonstration of the Skoog at the Scottish Learning Festival. Coming soon, the first live performance of a piece composed using the Skoog on the 11th November at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.


60 Things To Do With a Switch...

Image of the One-Switch logo with a big question mark in the middle.
The following has been cribbed wholesale from Kate Aherne's excellent Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog. See also her latest More Things to do with a Switch post:

Things to Do With a Switch and a Battery Interrupter (Just insert the metal disc of the interrupter between the battery head and the receiver and plug in a switch, does not generally work with anything that recharges. Also, when using a battery adapted it will just turn the item on an off making things like a stapler or pencil sharpener "partner" activities. You may need to tape, glue or velcro down the devices built in power switch if you want it to be an independent activity. Many of these items are available at dollar, discount and salvage stores as well as flea markets. It generally costs less to adapt them yourself. Save your school budget for things you can't pick up for cheap.)

1. cut with battery operated scissors (pre-adapted)
2. have a race with toys that walk accessed through the switch (pre-adapted)
3. use walking switch toys to knock down block tower
4. use an adapted remote control car to knock down towers
5. put paint on the wheels of the adapted remote control car and drive over paper to make a painting
6. use a battery run electric razor and remove the pills from sweaters
7. turn on and off a hand held massager to give massages or to shake a box filled with paint covered marbles
8. turn on and off a flashlight (point it under your face and tell ghost stories, hit another switch to play ghost stories)
9. turn on and off battery operated holiday lights decorating your wheelchair
10. blow bubbles on your adapted battery run bubble blower
11. staple things
12. turn on and off a mini-tv
13. stir a drink
14. sift flour
15. be in charge of the pencil sharpener
16. dry your nails
17. open mail
18. sharpen the crayons
19. vacuum up bugs or dust bunnies
20. scare the pants off someone
21. make something spin in circles
22. cool off
23. spray a mix of water and food coloring over a stencil to paint
24. take a bubble bath
25. make spin art Using a Switch and an Electric Power Adapter (The Powerlink from Ablenet and the Electra from Tash with both interrupt the power to electric {plug in} devices and can be set to direct, timed or latch {first hit turns on, second turns off}. Oh, don't use it with high power items like microwaves!)
26. cool off with a plug in fan, attach streamers and watch them blow
27. make sailboats, place in a long underbed storage box of water, set up fans with switches, use fans to make wind, race the boats
28. turn on and off the lights in a haunted house
29. be the D.J.
30. use hair dryers to dry paintings
31. go apple picking then use a juicer with a switch to make juice
32. make ice cream shakes, use food coloring to make a color to go with your holiday theme, sell them for two dollars
33. use a food processor to mix up the ingredients to make recycled paper, use your fans to dry it
34. grind up oreos in a grinder or food processor to make "dirt"
35. turn on holiday lights or a holiday fiber optic tree
36. run a foot massager
37. use the switch and the overhead projector to shine a light onto a friend and trace silhouettes
38. make a funky sixties or seventies space by running lava lamps, a liquid projector, and groovy music all by switches
39. run a fog lamp to make the room spooky or mist-i-cal
40. turn on the black lights with all of your glow in the dark stuff around, make your own planetarium
41. use that sewing machine and make some curtains (or aprons...)
42. plug in one red light and one green light - now the switch user runs gym class
43. shave people's heads for a dollar during spirit weekThings to do with specially adapted devices and a switch:
44-48. use a pouring cup to pour cooking ingredients, art supplies like glitter, to pour sand in the sand box, to measure for science experiments to to dump water over your friends head
49. Use and iScan to run your iPod
50. change the tv channels
51. listen to CDs
52. be a bookworm
55. spin
56. be a high roller
57. ring my bell or bells
58. bowl
59. scoot
60. joke

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