Neil Young: Switch Accessible Train Set

What a fantastic thing, originating from around 1993. Singer-song writer Neil Young wanted to involve his two disabled sons into his passion of model railways. To do this he and the company he part owned at the time, Lionel and Able-Net created a switch accessible hand-set, the Lionel 6-12969 Trainmaster Cab-1 Command Base.

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One Switch Driving Games (PS3 and Xbox)

The method above enables one-switch play on almost any driving game on PS3 and Xbox 360. Within a sentence, it involves a C-SID Ultra and Windows PC running JoyToKey.

To make things even more accessible my brand-new Tentacular 360 kit is added with VRAA speed control box (see below). This works brilliantly with Driver: San Francisco. You'll need help to pick a vehicle of your choice, set a speed that's comfortable then away you go with one-switch. If you get stuck, some extra help may be needed to reverse out of trouble.

For greater compatibility the Cronus Max is said to work on Xbox One (can't wait to try this). All PS3s will run PSone games to the best of my knowledge, and the classic 60GB PS3 will run PS2 games too.

Tentacular ( adapted Xbox 360 joypad). Black with an attached VGA cable.

Tentacular with attached VRAA! speed control box.

Tentacular Mini Joy / Thumb-stick for improved accessibility. From

Tentacular with attached VRAA! speed control box, Mini Joy and Vibro Capsule.

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Christmas Accessibility Lucky Dip

Lucky Dip Christmas Present - by Kristian Hammerstad via

So much great work in the world of accessibility that I've just not had time to do justice. Here's a lucky dip to at least share them a little further:

Competitions: Accessible Game Design Contest: You've just 4 days to declare an interest, with the deadline date for the games once accepted on May the 25th 2014. Definitely one to keep an eye on. Thanks to Jerome and Thierry Danigo for the tip. Also, see the Game Developer Conference 2014 ALT.CTRL alternative controller showcase call.

Video: Maniac Mam 2: the latest from Shoot Your Mouth Off films. Follow up to the dark thriller Maniac Mam.

Controls: Polymorph Plastic: Great to see SpecialEffect making such good use of this easy to mould material. I first saw this used by Geoff Harbach for the one handed prototype Orthros back in 2008 but I'm still yet to experiment with it myself. Great explanatory video at YouTube.

Head Trackers on Playstation and Xbox: Very exciting to see a head-tracker working on Playstation 3 and 4 and Xbox 360 and One. The set-up is complex and expensive but it shows a way forward for those needing such a solution. Using a Windows PC or Linux machine (e.g. a Raspberry Pi), the head-tracker add-on to the cinemizer OLED Virtual Reality video glasses, remapping software called Gimx and a link-up method such as the Cronus Max device. I looked into this a long-while back with a Natural Point Smart-NAV but had no luck. Can't wait to try a working solution. Hope cheaper methods are just around the corner.

Other accessible Controllers: iMotion Haptic feedback virtual reality motion control kickstarter, Gesture Works' Gameplay virtual controllers for Windows 8 touch games, DIY proximity sensor/touch switchDIY Power Chair (both found with thanks to John Bannick).

Articles and Videos galore: The New Yorker "A Video Game That You Can't Even See" (see also Blindside), KINECT Wheels via the university of Saskatchewan's Interaction Lab, Gamasutra's Developing an iOS game for blind players. IGDA GASIG's "The Voxel Agents win industry award for recognising the importance of inclusion in game development.", Walt Woltoz tribute via RJ Cooper plus his interesting and knowledgeable take on iOS7 switch access, Gamer Gets Free PS4 and finally Ian Hamilton's blog and Gizmodo's Abler should definitely be added to your RSS reader if you have one.

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Der Ziesel

Similar to the Tank Chair but frankly, a lot cooler looking, Der Ziesel is an 18 grand (£) all terrain wheel-chair. Would love to drive one.


Easier Internet: Dobson's Choice and Speak It!

A screen-shot of Dobson's Choice accessible browser: A man with glasses, black hair and a smiley face next to a range of media icons, including News, Sports, Travel, Entertainment, Essex, Interests, Services, People and Places. Recent websites are diplayed on the left, including The Sun, ITV and the BBC.

Dobson's Choice is described as a "Google for people with learning disabilities". It's a launch pad to the Internet where you click an icon once to hear a choice described and then click it again if you want to choose it.

There are said to be around 1000 elements covered, but you'll often find yourself away from the accessibility of Dobson's Choice and into a standard web-site. For this, if you use Chrome, I'd highly recommend installing "Speak It!" which allows you to highlight text then have it read out loud (in a choice of different languages).

Links via: Thurrock POINT.

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PS4 and Xbox One - Exciting News

Brilliant news on hopes that older custom controllers will be able to play on Xbox One and PS4 thanks to the Cronus Max team. Here's a smattering of what is possible already on PS3 and Xbox 360 achieved alongside SpecialEffect. Maybe if Sony and Microsoft don't kill any of this with updates, their consoles will be become hugely (physically) accessible within the first month. Unheard of in decades.

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Playstation 4 and Xbox One Accessibility Hopes

The Playstation 4 and Xbox One unsurprisingly turn out to have very poor support so far for disabled gamers. On the physical side, the controllers are harder than ever to hack/adapt and no previous Xbox 360 or PS3 controllers will so far work on them to play games.

That's a shame, and a nightmare and huge barrier to many people unable to use standard joypads or motion controls. The bright side is that although there's little hope that Microsoft and Sony are about to get their act together regarding game accessibility, there's hopes that others will find some solutions. The CronusMax shows a glimmer of hope for PS4 access. Fingers are crossed.

CronusMax link via Bill and Gavin at SpecialEffect. Control via Kieran Nolan.

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YouView Accessibility Boost

YouView High Contrast Mode

YouView switch accessible mode using Grids of icons.

YouView Zoom mode over text to improve accessibility.

Very happy to learn that YouView are about to come good on their commitment to accessibility. Big improvements are about to be squirted through the pipe-lines to their excellent Digital TV/Internet TV boxes. These include the ability to use a USB keyboard, high-contrast menus, text to speech on the YouView App and most excitingly, switch access.

Of interest too, is a proof of concept Raspberry Pi brained Xbox 360 controller interface. There's lots of accessible Xbox 360 controllers out there now such as the Quad-Controller and my C-SID, so this could be a very nice alternative way in too.

Info found via: Recombu, Techradar and originally via Ian Hamilton.


How Video Games Changed the World

Charlie Brooker outside Happidrome in Southend-on-Sea, in How Videogames Changed the World

If you can view it in your part of the world, I highly recommend viewing Charlie Brooker's How Video Games Changed the World documentary. Loved the content. Loved that it featured Llamasoft's Jeff Minter and Consolevania's Rab Florence. Loved enormously that the links were filmed along Southend-on-Sea's seafront, where I developed my love for video gaming as a child.

And topping this off, what fantastic news to learn that a Retro Gaming arcade has opened in near-by (to me) Southend-on-Sea, called Astro City. Can't wait to get down there.

Astro City, Retro Video Game Arcade, in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK




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