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Microsoft Advances Accessibility Features with new Xbox Adaptive Controller: Some Other Initiatives towards Inclusivity

Last updated on May 21, 2018 by Dotsquares

Microsoft has officially launched the new Xbox One controller, a week after its leaked image caused a stir on the internet.

The new controller is specially designed to make gaming more accessible to the gamers with limited mobility. It’s been envisioned in collaboration with a number of gaming organisations like Warfighter Engaged, AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and institutes that are working for people with disabilities like the Craig Hospital, and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Features that make new controller different

The interface of the new Xbox Adaptive Controller is making great progress to its main result, which is to make gaming more inclusive. It has large programmable buttons that cover up most of its surface area. It can also be easily connected to the other third-party devices that gamers with limited mobility may already have. The new controller, according to the official report published by Xbox Newswire, is extensible, affordable, and has plug-and-play support for input devices like Quadsticks’s game controller, Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro joystick, and PDP’s one-handed joystick, etc.

Evidently, the new controller is something quite new for the gamers with limited abilities, and it is going to take some adaptation on their part to make the best use of the device. Once that’s done, it’s bound to make gaming a more inclusive phenomenon. Already, in a short introductory interview with cnet, a gamer suffering from spinal cord injury, who also happens to be a retired captain from US army, and the social media manager for one of the contributing organisations Warfighter Engaged, has revealed how the controller has allowed him to gain adaptability and courage to do other real-life things as well.

Microsoft’s attempts towards Inclusivity

The new controller comes as yet another attempt from the company to expand its mission towards ‘inclusivity’, ahead of its Ability week (organised through May 29th to June 2nd).

Janny Lay-Flurrie, the company’s chief accessibility officer has stated in an interview with Fast Co Design that, “If I go back two to three years, we made a very, very conscious decision as a company to get into this gig in a much better way“. She says, “In some ways, it’s very logical. This is an enormous marketplace. It always cracks me up that this is called a minority when you have a billion-plus people around the world with disabilities.

Quoting the World Health Organisation’s definition of disability as “a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives”. Lay-Flurrie says that “it’s [disability] a mismatch between an individual and their environment., and she believes that “technology can be a bridge between that, the empowering tool that can assist. It’s not about replacing dogs, canes, or interpreters. It’s another tool in the toolbox.

As well as the adaptive controllers, one of the other gadgets from the tech toolkit Microsoft is building, is the accessibility checker in Office 365. The tool has been added right next to the spell check tool, and its role is to ensure that the document is completely inclusive. To illustrate its function, Lay-Flurrie gives an example that if one is sending a word document or an email with an image, but has forgotten to add a description to it, the tool will bring on a reminder for it.

There are many other advanced tools that Microsoft has included in its design to make it easy for its employees with limited abilities to work with comparative ease. As Lay-Flurrie puts it- the company wants to make “people to have choice, diversity, go after that job interview with a jacket full of technology that could empower them

This notion of including the viewpoint of differently-abled people in the engineering of new products, according to her, also opens up “a thousand opportunities” in which technology can be used to create a more inclusive society, where capabilities of every person can be employed to create a better future.

Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQuKFq25HP0
https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2018/05/16/xbox-adaptive-controller/
https://www.fastcodesign.com/90172289/microsoft-is-quietly-changing-the-way-we-work-again
https://www.cnet.com/news/microsoft-lay-flurrie-wants-to-help-put-disabled-people-on-an-equal-footing-xbox-adaptive-accessibility/
http://www.dnaindia.com/technology/report-xbox-officially-launches-a-controller-aimed-to-make-gaming-more-accessible-2617237