Cognable's Light Box

Zoomed effect in Cognable's Light Box. Fiery effects on a black back ground.

Image of the options within Cognable's PC version of Light Box.

Cognable's top notch iOS and Android app has been out a while, but it took a Tweet from Ian Bean for me to realise there was a free PC and Mac version over at the brilliant SEN Teacher.

Brilliant for cause and effect use with a variety of input methods, including single switch on all platforms, this is hugely recommended. Belatedly added to the OneSwitch Blog Cause and Effect section.

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Music Switch Shortcutter

I'm not really sure what this is called, but it's an essential addition to the Switch Music performance collection I'm building up thanks to the likes of William Pilgrim and in this case Will Wade. So what does it do?

Read more »

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Commodore 64 Music

FIFA 2014: Redux

FIFA 2014 already has a two-button mode to reduce the controls which is very welcome. In reality though this is actually the thumb-stick, trigger to run, two-buttons, and start and select used in accessing the menus. After a request from Colin McDonnell to SpecialEffect I managed to pare controls down to two-buttons:

small yellow switch = diagonal running (arrows). (larger green switch) = pass / shoot.

In the video above I navigate the menu system using the yellow button to cycle through some off-screen options and the green button to select. Once a game is started I can choose from two different running modes for the small yellow switch: right-angles (i.e. up, right, down, left) or diagonally as in the picture above. The large green switch allows me to pass/tackle if I tap the button, or shoot/slide-tackle if I hold the button.

It takes practice, but playing as Chelsea against Southend United, I managed to beat them 2-1 after a few draws or small losses. Playing tip is to press the green button a lot to tackle fairly, and to master the clock-wise rotation of your controls, knowing a double-tap will make you run in the opposite direction.

For tech heads: This set-up uses a Windows PC, JoyToKey, GTuner MaxAim, Cronus Device and PS3. The interface is a simple adapted PC joypad with two accessibility standard switches on a Trabasack.

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BBC Click: Inclusive Games

BBC Click (World Service) ident for the Inclusive Accessible Games slot with Ian Hamilton.

The BBC's hugely popular (33 million listeners) Click radio and web show recently interviewed Ian Hamilton, linked to his work with Game Jams, linked in turn to the Game Accessibility Guidelines site.

You can hear the five minute slot temporarily at the BBC here, and read the Click transcript here. See also Ian's GDC 2014 talk with thanks to Video Juegos Accesibles.

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Please Bring Back On-line Boccia Channel 4

In 2012, in celebration of the London Paralympics, Channel 4 hosted Preloaded's amazing version of Boccia on-line. As brilliant and fun as it was to play, it did pose some controller barriers leaving quite a few people unable to play independently.

The game had eight keys in total including five essential game-play keys. For some users, including some real-life Boccia players, this was too many.

Thankfully, due to the brilliant JoyToKey, and some time supported by SpecialEffect, I found a way to reduce all the controls down to two-buttons.

You can grab the zipped up JoyToKey with profiles via this Dropbox link [you may need WinRar to extract it and if using Chrome, go to the advanced settings via the three bars icon and untick the "Enable phishing and malware protection" temporarily]. You'll need a PC compatible joypad/joystick controller/switch interface. Button 1 is the action button, and Button 2 changes the action.

Update August 2015: this can now be played with one-button but only in Firefox or Internet Explorer, where the game runs a little rough. Sadly Chrome no longer supports Unity as I understand.

Boccia from Channel 4

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More Switch Accessible Cameras

Two superb videos from Enable Ireland above. Please see their superb entry on Accessible Photography here and their companion video on mounting tablets and phones to wheelchairs.

Cribbed from their YouTube videos are some links to the mounting solutions: Manfrotto Variable Friction Arm, Manfrotto clamp, RAM Small Camera Mounts, Go Pro Camera Mounts and Joby Gorilla Mount.

Something this says to me again, is how sorely iOS switch access needs the ability to navigate to a point, and allow the user to repeatedly activate a tap (or other gesture) on that point. This would enable users to take lots of photos with an external switch with minimal hassle. Great for many types of users.


4Noah 2014: Gaming Redux

The rough video above shows how it's possible to reduce the number of controls needed to play a game. In this instance, four controls have been reduced down to a single button/switch.

Using a switch interface on a PC running the latest 4Noah utility alongside MaxAim, all kind of things are possible.

With Peggle, one-switch works as follows: Tap to change the aiming angle (left - stop - right - stop). Hold for a couple of seconds then release toggles between fine aiming and fast aiming. Double-tapping fires the ball. I feel a Gaming Redux section coming together.

Peggle screen shot.

MaxAim: Xbox 360 set-up.

4Noah graphical display.

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Switch Viacam

Free to use on PCs, is the very natty Switch Viacam. It enables two switches to be mapped in thin-air. Imagine a webcam displaying a live image of whatever it's pointing at, where you can map out one or two boxes within that space. If anything passes through those boxes, or moves within them, a switch function is activated, such as an emulated left-click.

It works very well for some activities, although sadly not on games consoles through a Cronus Max. This is a brilliant idea, much like the OAK Air Switch, and free is my favourite price.

Created by the talented Cesar Mauri Loba and the APPC of Tarragona, see also the webcam based head-tracker with dwell clicking: Enable Viacam, and Cause and Effect fun with SITPLUS.

Many thanks to Will Wade and Gillian Taylor of SpecialEffect for this info. Added to the Accessible Gaming Shop switch  and software sections.

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PC and Mac Switch Accessible Menu Ideas

BBC Micro Switch Accessible programmes. 1995, 2000 Thurrock Care. Menu options include Yes, No and Dice. A Talk Type Work processor, a Number Generator and National Lottery programme, Biorhythms, a Musical Keyboard and HELP! and credits.

Here's a suggestion for making a switch accessible menu for a PC/Mac application/game, expanding upon my ancient system for a BBC Micro in the days when I used to programme a little bit.

1. Switch One (choose/select) = SPACE BAR, ENTER key and LEFT-CLICK.
2. Switch Two (move selector) = TAB and any key from A-Z.

Access methods: Allow access via one-switch, two-switch, keyboard methods. Ideally by mouse pointer too. Ensure joystick access is possible through JoyToKey. Some switch interfaces use adapted joypads.

Starting: Start the system using one-switch step scanning, that slowly steps through the available opening options. If the user manually moves the selector using switch two, then stop auto-step scanning. If the user taps the ESCAPE key once at the front menu screen, restart auto-step scanning. 

Exiting by keyboard: If at the front-menu in auto-scan mode and ESCAPE is pressed, quit everything. Otherwise ESCAPE should be a method to step backwards towards the main menu. 

Exiting by switch: Think about the needs of significantly learning disabled switch users versus the needs of the most able switch users. Ideally, give the most able one/two switch user a way to navigate all menus freely, and a way to quit the main switch accessible game/application too. This may be via a user-defined long-hold (not all can do this),  or morse-like taps, configurable from an options screen. Consider accidental triggering of this with a "are you sure you want to quit?" option. Very importantly, consider that all menus are a confusing distraction for the most learning disabled users. If you give an option to disable switch exiting from the main game/application, enabling the user to just keep playing until they become bored/want to do something else, you'll empower them too.

Speed adjustment: Give a way for the speed of the scanning to be adjusted from the keyboard (e.g. UP/DOWN cursor, or +, - keys) and also from a HELP! / Options system that is accessible using any of the access methods above. Use sounds and an indicator 

Quick access to menus: Numbering menu items, and making them accessible by that corresponding number (e.g. press key "3" to go straight to the Number Generator) can help general access for keyboard users.

Remember settings: For a single user, from the HELP/Options screen allow them to save their switch/scanning settings from a simple "SAVE these settings?" option. Consider a profile system for multiple-users.

Boosting access for those who cannot read English: Consider adding icons and/or speech options on each menu option, such as the common spanner/cog icon for options. Avoid complexity on the surface level options.

If you want to explore my old system (not perfect, but very usable) you'll need the BeebEm emulator, the EDU7 disk image and to press SHIFT then BREAK to boot the game in.

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Switch Accessible Camera: Kiddi Zoom Twist Plus

Kiddizoom Twist Plus, switch adapted for use with accessibility switch. (Pink camera and yellow switch). Front view of camera.

Kiddizoom Twist Plus, switch adapted for use with accessibility switch. (Pink camera and yellow switch). Rear view of camera.

Kiddizoom Twist Plus, switch adapted for use with accessibility switch. (Pink camera and yellow switch). Overhead tilted view including the switch socket on the top of the right-side grip.

I've recently adapted a Kiddi Zoom camera from Argos and it works great. It's a 2.0 megapixel camera, with adjustable lens (point it across 180 degrees front to back. Loads of amusing effects and extras can be found via the additional controls. There's no half-press to focus. Point and click using the attached switch and you're away.

Comes in Blue or Pink. Pictures are downloadable via a USB cable, and there's no camera mount screw, so you may need some copious use of velcro or other method to mount. It does have side attachments for string, that could be useful in this.

If you're interested in purchasing one (c. £90 delivered in the UK), feel free to get in touch to find out more. If you'd like to adapt one yourself, it's almost the same as the guide for the older Kidi Zoom camera. The main difference is that this time I used some SUGRU to mount the switch socket in a more upright position.

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