Platform level accessibility recommendations

Barrie Ellis, Tara Voelker and Ian Hamilton, published March 2017

Accessibility matters, for many reasons. These include:

  • The human benefit that gaming can bring, access to recreation, culture and socialising
  • The business benefit of reaching the significant numbers involved (over 20% of adults in the USA, not even taking into account 8% of males who have difficulty perceiving colors, or 14% of USA adults who have difficulty reading)
  • The impact on developers of their vision reaching as many people as possible, and the competitive advantage of tapping underserved demographics that competitors are not reaching
  • The innovative new solutions benefitting all gamers that come from tackling different kinds of problems and constraints
  • More recently, through CVAA, also legal compliance

Accessibility features on consoles now have a strong precedent set by both Xbox and PlayStation. However, much more could still be done. Some existing gaming platforms still lack accessibility functionality. Perhaps most important, accessibility consideration in early stages of development for future consoles, those that have yet to be released, could lead to greatly more accessible platforms in the future.

This document contains a list of potential accessibility considerations and further details on what each of them addresses and entails, covering software, hardware, and games.

Although the concept of accessibility may initially seem daunting, the bulk of accessibility is not R&D work. The answers are already out there. Some of these recommendations already exist on current gaming platforms, some come from other industries, some already exist in individual games, some come from public requests, and some are unique to this document.

Some relate to CVAA, some do not. The recommendations intentionally do not indicate which relate CVAA and which are not, as the recommendations are intended for providing a good experience for as many people as possible, rather than just providing compliance.

While it is unrealistic to aim to hit everything, doing something is better than doing nothing. There are many quick wins to get started with, and every effort taken will reduce unnecessary barriers and increase the number of gamers who can take part.

A proven effective approach is to have a simple commitment to always moving forward and never back, to each successive release being more accessible than the last.

A downloadable/printable Word document version is also available.