What is Game Accessibility?
One task that we had to address was the lack of a definition of “game accessibility”. While there were already definitions of “accessibility,” we felt that they did not meet our requirements.
Therefore, the following definition was developed by the GA-SIG:
- “Game Accessibility can be defined as the ability to play a game even when functioning under limiting conditions. Limiting conditions can be functional limitations, or disabilities — such as blindness, deafness, or mobility limitations.”
What are the Types of Disabilities and Limiting Conditions?
There are a variety of different auditory conditions that could limit a person attempting to play a game. The primary categories encountered in gaming are limitations in audio are listed below.
There are two major auditory issues: deafness and being hard of hearing. Both of these conditions affect the way users play games.
- Deafness is an inability to understand speech or recognize environmental sounds. There are a variety of causes for deafness, including genetics, disease, or accident. Certain drugs are also known to cause deafness. Deaf people generally communicate using sign language, of which there are several dialects.An estimated 20 million people in the United States have hearing problems (including being entirely deaf or hard of hearing). This represents 8.6% of the total population. Some hearing can be restored using hearing aids, but that is often very limited. Access to interpreting services, closed captioning on television, instant messaging, and text messaging on cell phones has broadened the entertainment and communication options for the deaf. Like many people, the deaf are comfortable using computers and enjoy playing computer games. Sites such as DeafGamers.com review games from a deaf point of view.
Hard of hearing:
- Unlike other disabilities, hearing loss is categorized as a continuous spectrum of loss.
- Mild hearing loss -On average, the quietest sounds that people can hear with their better ear are between 25 and 40 dB. People who suffer from mild hearing loss have some difficulties keeping up with conversations, especially in noisy surroundings.
- Moderate hearing loss – On average, the quietest sounds heard by people with their better ear are between 40 and 70 dB. People who suffer from moderate hearing loss have difficulty keeping up with conversations when not using a hearing aid.
- Severe hearing loss – On average, the quietest sounds heard by people with their better ear are between 70 and 95 dB. People who suffer from severe hearing loss will benefit from powerful hearing aids, but often they rely heavily on lip-reading even when they are using hearing aids. Some also use sign language.
- Profound hearing loss – On average, the most quiet sounds heard by people with their better ear are from 95 dB or more. People who suffer from profound hearing loss are very hard of hearing and rely mostly on lip-reading, and/or sign language.
Adapted from: European Group on genetics of hearing impairment. Martini A (Ed.), European Commission Directorate, Biomedical and Health Research Programme (HEAR) Infoletter 2, November 1996, 8.