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In an industry first, Microsoft has launched a testing program that invites game developers to send in their games and get feedback on how accessible they are for disabled gamers.
In January 2020, the Microsoft Gaming Accessibility team published a set of Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs). Over the past year, the team received feedback from developers asking for more help and insights. So Microsoft rewrote the guidelines. They also went a step further and set up a testing program. Game designers can now submit their Xbox or PC title to Microsoft, which will then test and validate it based on the new XAGs.
If the validation team finds an issue, it provides developers with hands-on tools for replicating the problem and with details on how a given experience could be challenging for gamers with specific disabilities. In addition to the technical testing phase, the next step of the process is to involve members of the gaming and disability community, who offer insights into how they experience a game and which problematic options or features they run into.
Gaming is a way to socialize, it's recreational, it's part of our culture. So it's imperative that people aren't excluded. Of course, the same applies to any number of products and services that need to be (re)designed with inclusivity in mind. How can you dismantle barriers and push for more accessibility in your industry?
(Related: Starbucks opens a new signing store in Tokyo — Wireless braille keyboard for blind smartphone users.)
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