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Open Your Eyes (And Ears, Etc.) For The Accessibility Jam

We’d normally cover jams when they’re done and there’s a bunch of games you can play, but raising awareness early seems fair when raising awareness is the point. The Accessibility Jam wants to give “developers knowledge and experience of how to make mainstream video games accessible to gamers with disabilities, to provide good examples of what’s possible, and move accessibility towards being widely accepted good practice in the game design process.” The jam begins in a little over 5 days and you should take part or pay attention.

We complain about and advocate for more robust options in videogames all the time, so we can take advantage of the power of our PCs. Complaining about and advocating for more robust options which would allow a broader number of people to play videogames seems far more important. The Accessibility Jam site does a good job of explaining the thinking behind the event, and dispelling some of the likely skepticism.

Isn’t catering for people with disabilities too difficult and expensive for a jam?

A great deal can be achieved through simple design choices, based on two key principles:

  • Communicating information in multiple ways such as icons, colour, or text as well as speech.
  • Offering players some flexibility in how they play such as difficulty settings or remappable controls.

Many game developers don’t know where to start, but we aim to remedy that situation. For the week leading up to the start of the jam, please take the time to look through the resources, you might be surprised at how much can be done simply and easily.

The jam also offers some guidelines as to the theme of submitted games, suggesting that developers “think about barriers that gamers with impairments might face in your concept, which of those barriers are not actually required by your core mechanic and how to go about reducing or removing them using the two key principles: conveying information in more than one way, allowing flexibility in play style.”

The jam is designed to coincide with the broader Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 15th, which aims to start a conversation about accessibility for all digital tools, be they websites, software or mobile devices. And unlike most jams which take place over a week or a weekend, the Accessibility Jam will run for three weeks until June 1st. We’ll cover it again when there are games to play, but you should get involved if you can.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

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