FingerTip Controllers (1982)

Circa 1982 Ken Yankelevitz adapted Atari VCS 2600 games console for improved accessibility. Discarded in a dusty looking garage along with old black and white portable monitor and stand.

After finding the top picture whilst researching for my ever-so-slow book, and knowing it to be the work of game controller accessibility pioneer Ken Yankelevitz (see the video above 1min 26 in), I was curious to know if the unloved set-up still exists. I would love to get hold of it.

Thanks to "Moonsweeper" on the AtariAge forums, I've got the name of the "FingerTip Controllers" and a tip to trawl through early US video gaming magazine "Electronic Games". This proved easy to do thanks to a brilliant archive at Digital Press. From October 1982 onwards I tracked down adverts for Ken's controllers and a fascinating historic article from Diane Yankelevitz in the February 1983 edition.

1982 Advert for the discontinued FingerTip Controller for the Atari (VCS) placed in the October 1982 Electronic Games magazine. The advert reads, "$19.95. Works with all games that use a joystick. Direct from the manufacturer, KY Enterprises, Available in kit form - $14.95, shipping charge $3. 5 responsive arcade-quality durable buttons for 4 directions and "fire". Faster direction changes. Rapid firing improves scores. 2 year warantee. 30-day moneyback guarantee. Left-hand models available. Attaches to top of video game console. Controllers for handicapped also available. Write for information.

FingerTip Controller for the Atari VCS from KY Enterprises (circa 1982).

Gaming and the Handicapped. February 1983 article from Electronic Games.

1983 Advert for FingerTip Controller and other game accessibility controllers, including a sip-puff device.


Skoog Orchestra

Photo of an orchestra, with the different sections labelled (from left to right) as Wind Band, Guitar Ensemble, iPad Orchestra, Jazz Band, Skoog Orchestra, Sinfonietta, Samba Band, Youth Brass and Beginners Brass.

Chuffed to have received this Skoog related press release drop into my e-mail box recently sharing developments in Lancashire. It's so good to see the dream for the Skoog as an equalising force in Orchestras and music creation being realised.

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Sony PS4 Giant Controller Accessibility

Mark Cerny giant PS4 Dual-Shock to help developers implement better accessibility for younger players.

I'm getting the impression that Sony's grasp of the needs of disabled players remains non-existent. Each Playstation generation sees additional complexity added to their controllers (see the video above and imagine how someone with Cerebral Palsy might get on with it). This is disabling an ever widening net of people who have alternative access needs. The controllers would be fine, if there was a push to offer support for simpler control schemes. There isn't.

Interestingly, Mark Cerny (author of classic track-ball game Marble Madness and key PS4 system master-mind) recently spoke enthusiastically of a giant PS4 controller being used to get across the barriers typically faced by young players who could not reach the shoulder buttons. This was handed to the developers of "Knack" which aims to be Sony's "on-ramp [game] to the world of console gaming". Is this how far we've travelled? Atari worked that out in 1983 with their Kids Controller. If this is how far accessibility has progressed at a console developer level, then I truly shake my head in despair. Pitiful. What about all the disabled players out there, Sony?

Sony PS4 Game Accessibility: Poster Walking with Dinosaurs.

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Another Place

Another Place by Antony Gormley. Such a beautiful thing, and getting more beautiful by the year.


Makey Makey on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360

The video above is a glimpse of some of the research and development game accessibility work I'm doing at the moment for SpecialEffect.

When I first got my hands on the build your own controller Makey Makey kit, I was disappointed to find that it wouldn't connect to an Xbox 360 or PS3 via any adapters I had to hand. With the brilliant Cronus Device and a PC, it will. This enables custom very light pressure controls to be used in a wide variety of ways.

Quick D.I.Y. Help: 1. Link your PS3 and PC using the Cronus Device and supplied Cronus cable. 2. Start the Bullseye software. 3. Download, import then start this "Test: MM Pinball" profile. 4. Connect one control to the SPACE BAR or LEFT-CLICK for flippers etc. and the other control if needed to "W" for nudging.

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Tattoo foot switches for Computer Use

The Tattoolan YouTube clip above shows how to make a Do It Yourself (DIY) Tattoo foot pedal. Interesting to see that on eBay there are hundreds of these from China starting from £1.89 delivered.

These will work great as accessibility switches with modern switch accessible toys, gadgets and computers, so long as you use an adapter (search for "6.35 socket to 3.5mm plug mono adapter") or you cut the plug off and fit your own 3.5mm plug. You could also just cut the ends off and screw the exposed wire into a MakeyMakey or the likes of an Ultimarc i-Pac or A-Pac (A-Pac for the easiest and greatest power using JoyToKey where you can latch controls, switch profiles and more). Use a Cronus Device and use these on a PS3 or Xbox 360. More to follow on this.

Acrylic Tattoo Foot Switch Pedal, possible to use for computer and game accessibility. Via OneSwitch.

Basic style Tattoo Foot Switch Pedal, possible to use for computer and game accessibility. Via OneSwitch.

Round Tattoo Foot Switch Pedal, possible to use for computer and game accessibility. Via OneSwitch.

Skull Tattoo Foot Switch Pedal, possible to use for computer and game accessibility. Via OneSwitch.

Narrow Stainless Steel Tattoo Foot Switch Pedal, possible to use for computer and game accessibility. Via OneSwitch.

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R2D2 - Switch Accessible

This inflatable R2D2 is another switch accessible toy added to the OneSwitch shop. You can use one-switch to spin, making a great cause and effect device. Add another to go forward up to total of four switches for maximum control...

This R2 unit is a bit spin-happy, whereby if you press spin, he won't stop the instant you release the button/switch. This makes controlling him quite fun if a little unpredictable, which I think was probably deliberate as it gives him a bit of R2 personality (i.e. a mind of its own).

Inflatable R2D2 remote control robot adapted for use with accessibility switches. Via




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