What you need to know
- Microsoft Ability Summit 2022 has begun.
- Sarah Bond, corporate vice president of gaming at Microsoft, talked about pushing for developers to build more accessible games.
- Bond highlighted numerous resources Microsoft is providing developers to make games more accessible.
Microsoft Ability Summit is here, as the company begins an event focused on better representing and aiding people with disabilities in the workforce. That includes gaming, as Sarah Bond, corporate vice president of Xbox at Microsoft, shared details on improving accessibility in gaming.
According to Bond, with over 3 billion people playing games in the world, there are over 400 million players with varying disabilities. As part of Microsoft's goal of "making Xbox a place where everyone has fun," Bond shared some resources game developers can use to better design games to be as accessible as possible. Microsoft is partnering with the Xbox Accessibility Insider League, a group of over 158,000 players with disabilities and allies of the community who help provide feedback on different features.
There's also the Microsoft Gaming Accessibility Testing Services, a program where developers can submit Xbox and PC games to be evaluated by accessibility design experts and players with disabilities. Games are tested against the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, with detailed feedback including highlights for different features, concerns over potential issues, and additional resources that developers can pull from.
The Xbox Accessibility Guidelines were first introduced in 2020, and have received major updates since, with Microsoft taking in community feedback from disabled players. Bond notes that a question frequently received by the Gaming Accessibility team is "What game can I play?" Microsoft is encouraging developers to use features like Xbox Accessibility Tags. These tags allow developers to identify various accessibility features which players can in turn search for, filtering out games that don't have specific features.
Additionally, Microsoft has announced a new Inclusive Tech Lab that's designed to help the company build its future products alongside people with disabilities as part of the design process. The company has also announced a new line of adaptive PC accessories, unveiled new accessible features in Edge, and is highlighting several new accessibility features coming soon to Windows 11.
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