Xbox is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day by highlighting the work that it is doing to improve accessibility in gaming.
Gaming is a hobby that should be accessible to everyone, and as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Microsoft is highlighting the initiatives that it is taking to make gaming more inclusive to the estimated 400 million gamers worldwide who have disabilities. This includes company wide schemes, as well as work at individual studios across the Xbox team.
As part of this, Microsoft has announced the creation of the Xbox Accessibility Insiders League, a new program that will help players give accessibility feedback to Xbox’s engineering teams and game developers. Anyone who identifies as a person with a disability can sign up to the league through the Xbox Insider Program. Developers can also sign up to join the Xbox Accessibility Insiders League too.
The Xbox Gaming Accessibility team has also created a Gaming and Disability Player Experience Guide to help developers identify the barriers that players with certain disabilities may experience due to certain game mechanics, visual effects, or content types. This works together with the existing Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, which have been updated.
Xbox is improving the accessibility features in its core services too, with the addition of speech-to-text and text-to-speech options for gamers in Xbox Party Chat. These are helpful tools for users who are deaf or hard of hearing, and players who cannot or choose not to speak, letting them participate in chats with online friends. These options can be enabled in the Ease of Access settings on your Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or Xbox One.
Xbox Studios are also working hard to make sure that the games they create are as inclusive and accessible as possible, and Xbox highlights the efforts of a few teams including State of Decay creators Undead Labs, Gears 5 developers The Coalition, and Minecraft developers Mojang.
For example, the Gears 5 team is adding navigation pings to Escape mode, to help low and no vision gamers to navigate their way through the maze-like environments. Meanwhile the Minecraft team has been updating the design of various ore types to make them visually distinct to players who struggle to read different colors.
You can read the full details of Microsoft’s efforts over at Xbox Wire.