Microsoft to let people with disabilities test games for accessibility support
Microsoft made waves in the game industry a couple of years ago when they released their Adaptive Controller for their Xbox consoles and for computers. The company seems to have chosen the accessibility-first approach because it also released the first edition of its ‘Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAG) in 2019, effectively setting up a standard for developers “to generate ideas and as a guiding checklist for validating the accessibility of a game.”
The company shared in a blog post that they garnered feedback from their Gaming and Disability community and stated that they learned that the only true way of ensuring that both needs of the developer and members of the disabled community were met would be to partner with them while the XAGs are created and after they are launched.
Microsoft now says that their Game Reliability Engineering team and the Gaming Accessibility Team worked on what it calls an “industry-first, platform-provided game accessibility testing program”. This program -headed by Mike Gamble, the company's principal software engineering lead- is able to validate games using the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines.
Unlike other attempts at inclusivity, this program lets gamers with disabilities test out these games and give their feedback before the game is actually released so that the development can also be shaped around their responses. As a result, the games should definitely see a rise in overall accessibility.
“We are continuing to take feedback from developers as well as the Gaming & Disability Community. It's important for us to ensure we are constantly improving and raising the bar for inclusive gaming. This is just a single point in that journey,” the company stated on their blog.