The UCP Life Labs team was on hand for the unveiling of the AbleGamers ‘Accessibility Arcade’, the first permanent and public arcade of its kind, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC. The concept of an accessible arcade has been showcased in the past, but this is the first permanent installation open to the public. The installation will allow people with disabilities to play various Xbox and PC video games with accessible controllers.
The launch of this ‘Accessibility Arcade’ is big news for a variety of reasons. First, everyone should be able to enjoy the thrill of playing video games regardless of disability. The AbleGamers Foundation understands this and makes a strong case for more accessible gaming stations and controllers. Second, video games are well beyond just being purveyors of fun. Computer gaming helps in cognitive growth, physical and mental rehabilitation, and spatial reasoning, among many more areas. More and more discussions are happening that speak to video gaming as being indispensable to cognitive growth. Third, the DC Public Library has understood the supporting role that libraries play in communities around the world. By opening up an accessible arcade to the public, the DC Public Library is tapping into an important and often neglected portion of its users.
“When properly used, video games can be an important learning tool for literacy, spatial reasoning and curriculum support as well as a wonderful social experience.”
~ Venetia Demson, Chief of DC Public Library’s Adaptive Services Division
Today’s ribbon cutting featured a table with various accessible video game controllers and a large flat screen television outfitted with a Microsoft Kinect to allow people in wheelchairs to interact with the game system.
Left: A custom controller built to utilize a variety of input devices in order to control the video game. In this example, the green switch on the right controls the gas pedal. The blue and yellow switches on the left control turning the vehicle left and right respectively.
The AbleGamers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that runs AbleGamers.com, which provides news and reviews on the accessibility of mainstream video game titles, as well as consultation on assistive technology. As an alternative to Serious Gaming, mainstream video games supply many disabled individuals and veterans with rehabilitation as well as social stimulation in situations where they may be otherwise shut out of society’s idea of normal everyday life.