In case you aren’t yet familiar with the annual event, it features members of the Xbox team and Microsoft’s Inclusive Tech Lab.
The goal of the partnership is to unite under the banner slogan, “When everybody plays, we all win.”
The show — which was hosted at the Inclusive Tech Lab on the Microsoft campus in Richmond, Washington — focused on helping players with disabilities and their industry allies through three categories: create, play and connect.
Microsoft Gaming Accessibility Testing Service will now offer a new Players with Disability Focus [PwD] starting next month. This program will connect studios with Microsoft game testers with disabilities throughout the process of game design so as to make sure that the relationship is as productive as it can be from the very first day. This is extremely important because any gamer with a disability or ally game developer will tell you that it’s easier and far cheaper to add accessibility along the way than implement it after the fact. In fact, this is a great Twitter thread outlining this very topic.
Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) have been a huge addition to help studios and developers who want to become allies. There’s a wealth of information here on handling things like subtitles, colour filters, difficulty modes and now, a comprehensive guide of touch controls for gaming on touch screens.
Xbox claims there are over 400 Million players with disabilities. And providing them with connections between one another and also through able-bodied communities is key to us all winning. So that’s part of why the Xbox Ambassador Accessibility Explorer Path is here to challenge Xbox Ambassadors to learn about accessibility and best practices for approaching it in gaming. New missions will be added to the program throughout each season, allowing Explorers to level up their knowledge.
Xbox has redesigned the support hub to feature better page accessibility and pages on accessibility features on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs.
Finally, it can be hard for gamers with a disability to know whether they will be able to play or not. Xbox has been committed to offering accessibility metadata tags to game pages in the Microsoft Store and Xbox Game Pass app for a while now. But they are also releasing accessibility pages on the Family Gaming Database to help players and their allies find accessibility info for games either already out or on the way.