Skip to main content

Xbox is inviting disabled gamers to help test new accessibility features

Xbox Adaptive Controller
(Image credit: Future)

Continuing its notable commitment to inclusivity in the gaming industry, Xbox is set to launch a new program that will allow players with disabilities to test accessibility options in upcoming games.

The program is being helmed by the Xbox Gaming Accessibility Team, and will follow the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) the company has worked on extensively since 2019.

The goal of the new program, in tandem with the XAGs, is to open up accessibility testing to gamers with disabilities to ensure that options are implemented properly, and to offer suggestions for features that could benefit a wider spectrum of players.

Gaming for all

Microsoft has remained impressively committed to providing an inclusive space for gamers with disabilities. In 2018 it launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller in collaboration with The AbleGamers Foundation. The controller was designed to accommodate disabled players who had difficulties using traditional controllers or mouse and keyboard setups.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller addressed hardware-related obstacles, but it couldn’t necessarily impact the accessibility options found within gaming software. This is where Xbox’s new initiative comes into play.

Commenting on a trial phase for the program in a blog post, Brannon Zahand, Xbox’s Senior Program Manager for Gaming Accessibility said: “Developers now have the option to send Microsoft their Xbox or PC title and have it analyzed...Where issues are found, they are noted with reproduction steps, screenshots, and other information to help the developer understand what aspect of a given experience may be challenging for certain gamers with disabilities.”

Zahand also stressed the importance of members of the disabled community being included in the test phase, so that the project could get feedback from people who might benefit from accessibility features the most.

We’ve seen many games over the years provide excellent accessibility features, including colorblind options, closed captions and text sizes. Perhaps the gold standard at the moment is The Last of Us Part II, whose accessibility options were lauded for going above and beyond in terms of their wealth of options, including presets for the vision- and hearing-impaired, as well as a suite of options for players with physical or mobility disabilities.