[games_access] Getting Federal government. On our side.

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Sun Dec 16 14:55:42 EST 2007


Hi Matthias,

I think we're all in agreement with regard to not going down the law
path -- there's too many bad lessons to be learned from the law
regarding other media. We have to be informed by media law -- there
are too many legal deadlocks just with regard to captioning in movie
theatres. We were having an exercise in free speech and discussing
strategies for helping more games become accessible to more. There's
nothing wrong with discussing it and we should discuss it -- sooner
or later someone WILL find a legal route to go through and start a
lawsuit. We have to be prepared for this possibility and know how we
can help the industry through solutions so that these suits could be
dropped WHEN it happens. And it will happen...sadly, it's inevitable
the way things are in the US. The more we are informed about how
different governments handle things the better we can help the
industry avoid it.

We aren't the ones with the bandwidth or group purpose to draft a law
-- this is the domain of politically connected organizations that
represent different disabilities. But we CAN earn more commitment
from the industry in "honorable ways" as you pointed out. Take, for
example, how we are currently discussing solutions for "Rock Band" --
here's the CEO who wants to help with a game already shipped but
would be someone who could help advertise "hey, here's some ways to
play if you have "x" limitation." And then it might be that some of
these things get put into the next version. If we can get more people
in positions of power in companies behind us then we are going to be
stronger for it.

I'm not sure I agree with a wholesale statement like "games aren't
meant for everyone to begin with" -- I think more in terms of "we may
never be able to create a game that is going to be fun AND accessible
for everyone."

Schools are an entirely different issue -- a game used in a school in
the US is required to have a "reasonable accommodation." But what is
reasonable when you compare to the richness of a gaming environment?
Not an easy question to answer because even a book for some is not
accessible.

Not sure I agree with "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of a
few" being entirely representative of the US -- depends on where you
are on the political scheme of things. :) And how much you agree with
Mr. Spock from Star Trek. ;)

Michelle


>Getting a law passed should be an issue dropped from the SIG. The

>bottom line is that games aren't meant for everyone to begin with.

>Nothing is.

>

>Influence through inspiration is an honorable way to meet the SIG's

>goals. Forcing its hand by law is condemnable. The former may not

>be the most effective, but the latter doesn't consider for one

>second that everything this SIG stands for MIGHT BE "WRONG". On a

>social level accessibility *might* be a nice accomplishment. How

>about from other perspectives? Entertainment? Art? Creative

>freedom? I enjoy designing accessible games on an

>independent/"hobbyist" basis, but I cringe to think what forced

>accessibility would do (or not do) on a grand scale. I'll reserve

>my "what if" statements.

>

>The only place accessibility may have a legal leg to stand on is in

>a public school setting. Are most people with special needs able to

>attend public schools (bad question - as there is such a large range

>of disabilities)? Does it impede the progress of able bodies?

>Remember - in America - "The needs of the MANY outweigh the needs of

>a few" or so it's believed. Are American children under-performing

>because the top 50% of students are being held back by laws, goals,

>and actions focused on the bottom 50% (I'm not assuming disabled

>people are "dumb", but most are "under-performing" by definition

>that they don't have tools needed to maximize potential)? We can't

>be educated enough to know. As wide a range of accessibility

>features there could be for different disabilities there are

>different points of view of how a law may have a positive or

>negative impact on the very society [able-bodied inclusive] this

>group is trying to help. So, please continue to inspire, and please

>keep this out of reach from the law.

>

>

>

>

>

>Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2007 22:24:04 -0600

>To: games_access at igda.org

>From: hinn at uiuc.edu

>Subject: Re: [games_access] Getting Federal government. On our side.

>

>.ExternalClass blockquote, .ExternalClass dl, .ExternalClass ul,

>.ExternalClass ol, .ExternalClass li

>{padding-top:0;padding-bottom:0;} Re: [games_access] Getting Federal

>government. On our sid

>This is true and I definitely was not trying to discourage the

>petition -- but when we start talking laws...we start talking about

>lawsuits. To do that is a whole different ballgame.

>

>Movie industry captioning does fall, in part, under the Americans

>with Disabilities Act but that ruling was in 2000 and the fight to

>get at least seat based captioning is STILL ongoing with lawsuit

>after lawsuit launched. The issue is that these require special

>devices and sometimes seating that someone has to pick up the bill

>for (who pays for that? The movie theatres? The movie industry?).

>The other issue is captions on or below the screen -- The National

>Association of the Deaf have been trying to get "open captioning"

>(captions on or below the screen) of movies in theaters implemented

>for a loooooong time now -- "open captioning" or on screen

>captioning is NOT covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act

>for some reason so there's ZERO incentive for the film industry to

>do that unless they are showing a foreign language film) and there

>are entire chains of movie theatres that do NOT provide captioning

>-- even seat-based:

>

>http://www.nad.org/site/pp.asp?c=foINKQMBF&b=100779

>

>See also this page for more information on how the movie industry

>has reacted (quoted from the website: "Movie studios and theaters

>have been slow to adopt open captioning of movies by claiming that

>open captioning causes a negative effect on box office sales." Sound

>familiar???):

>

>http://www.nad.org/site/pp.asp?c=foINKQMBF&b=100782

>

>The above is a nice example of a position statement that is perhaps

>more like what we want to go with regarding a petition.

>

>A tax break initiative for movie theatre chains to do provide for

>this was introduced in the JOBS act but when the final version of

>the law passed, this was a "rider" on the law that was not included.

>There have also been lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit raised and

>those take forever and usually get dropped for one reason or another.

>

>So perhaps what we need to do is not just get a petition going but

>actually get groups like the National Association of the Deaf and so

>forth involved. Because we can get every name in the game industry

>to sign the petition but it's powerful (and politically connected)

>groups like these that launch the lawsuits -- they have the power,

>connections, and the money to do this.

>

>I know...this is soooo "American." It would be great if there were

>easy and inexpensive options for the industry to implement, that it

>was "politically correct" for a legislator to stand behind this

>issue (remember...we are in election times...) -- the veteran issue

>is great and I definitely use this example in talks that I give. But

>on the flip side...games were also used to recruit so you can

>imagine the powderkeg the senator/whoever that brings this up will

>face. And with all the issues current candidates are having to

>address...eeek. So once again the lawsuit issue comes up. For that?

>We need way more power and we need the power and support of major

>disability organizations.

>

>Note: I am in no way saying "let's launch a lawsuit NOW." In fact,

>by even raising the issue I'm probably pissing off every developer

>on the list. Or not. I'm only raising the issue and pointing out how

>other advocacy groups have handled this issue of accessibility to

>entertainment.

>

>Michelle (who on some days is tempted to go get a law degree in

>night school...hahahahahahah...ok, seriously...I'm tired. And when

>that happens all kinds of crazy things come to mind.)

>

>

>I know what you mean Michelle. But the bottom line is there needs to be

>something created so that the entertainment world has a standard also.

>

>Take for example the product brought out by the movie industry.

>

>In order for their productivity listened to by people with heart hearing,

>the movie theaters themselves by law, have to provide assistance technology

>to help the people either see or hear with devices.

>

>

>To me that seems like not exactly the same thing but something similar.

>

>The game design industry also provides a product that is not equal

>opportunity to enjoy.

>

>If we can get the petition circled around then we can send it to the right

>people who know the law and who can help us voice in if they see the need,

>which will combine the most important people we can find to sign it.

>

>Even if we just get around to the people we need to sign it, and then send

>it around to officials, and nothing happens, I think it makes a very loud

>statement. Because then it can be documented who signed it.

>

>I would imagine trying to get the key names in the industry to sign it.

>Even the employees for those companies.

>

>Not to mention sending it out to all the important institutions.

>

>On their web site for the petition web page they do say that it's

>prohibited, not allowed, to mass e-mail yourself they set it up somehow

>targeting it to the right people I'm not sure how.

>

>I do not know what that's all about. Seems kind of crazy.

>

>Robert

>

>-----Original Message-----

>From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org]

>On Behalf Of d. michelle hinn

>Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 8:10 PM

>To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List

>Subject: Re: [games_access] Getting Federal government. On our side.

>

>Well, the reality is that it can take a VERY long time for a bill to

>become a law...and even longer for something to become a bill! While

>I think we should send something to the government I think the first

>step is going to be sending something that makes them aware that this

>is even an issue.

>

>Then we probably need the help of a legislative attorney who knows

>what specific constitutional laws are being violated and in what

>instances. For instance, I'm pretty sure that there's no law that

>requires that the music industry makes all CDs sold accessible to all

>so a federal law mandating that video games are accessible to all

>seems like that's probably pretty improbable. But what about video

>game tournaments that exclude disabled gamers or a video game that's

>marketed and used in schools (that, for sure, is a violation of US

>law)?

>

>I don't mean to be discouraging -- quite the opposite. We just have

>to know what's possible and what is realistic and what can be done

>soon and what is going to take a whole lot of persistence.

>

>Michelle

>

>>Sounds great. I'm just not sure how to tie it in a broad? How would that

>>work? I was suggesting that if it worked here it would become something

>>marketable that other countries with one the same stamp of approval.

>>

>>My thoughts would be if it was made into some kind of legislation who makes

>>up the ideas for ranking if it becomes accepted?

>>

>>I think the best thing is to put together the petition that I will

>>definitely start writing. And then if we get any important representatives

>>responding they can let us know what they think the best solution would be.

>>

>>Ultimately I think it should be something we can make money from instead of

>>giving away all our ideas. So I'm sure there will be guidelines written up

>>basic ones may be but then after that someone needs to regulate it.

>>

>>Kind of like what Hillary Clinton set up with the MSRP people. And as they

>>might already have a branch or suggest a private branch which would be

>>better. Maybe they would find it and give us a place to locate. One of

>the

>>best persuasive points to put in the petition would be for the injured

>>soldiers.

>>

>>Robert

>>

>>-----Original Message-----

>>From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org]

>>On Behalf Of d. michelle hinn

>>Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 7:34 PM

>>To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List

>>Subject: Re: [games_access] Getting Federal government. On our side.

>>

>>I have all the US Senate/House/Governors email addresses so if you

>>start it and others can help edit, I can send out a press release.

>>

>>We can start by raising the issue with the US government because I

> >have those addresses but as Barrie suggested -- why limit this to

>>just the US?

>>

>>I'm not sure how successful it will be but we haven't tried it and

>

> >with the right tone it's worth a shot -- if anything it never hurts

>>to remind the US government who often tries to outlaw gaming after

>>this and that happens that games are important and not all bad. I'm

>>always happy to contribute to that approach!

>>

>>Michelle

>>

>>>Robert, if you kick start it, and get it going - I'll support you

>>>and so will others. Why not

>>>start by building an on-line petition - I'm sure there's more than just me

>>>here that would be happy to proof read it and add suggestions before

>>>it goes live.

>>>

>>>Take a look here:

>>>

>>>http://www.petitiononline.com/

>>>http://www.petitiononline.com/Captions/petition.html

>>>

>>>I too don't know how successful this approach will be - but none of us

>will

>>>know for sure unless it's tried.

>>>

>>>At the very least, it can burble away in the background - building support

>>>for us in numbers. Perhaps we could all point people in its direction if

>it

>>>says things we are mostly happy with? I'd like it to be a bit more

>>>international in scope, so I'd love to see an intro paragraph with links

>to

>>>translated versions in other languages.

>>>

>>>Go for it, Robert!

>>>

>>>Barrie

>> >www.OneSwitch.org.uk

>>>

>>>----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert Florio"

>><arthit73 at cablespeed.com>

>>>To: "'IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List'" <games_access at igda.org>

>>>Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 7:41 PM

>>>Subject: Re: [games_access] Getting Federal government. On our side.

>>>

>>>>I'm actually proposing how many of us want to and can help to send

>letters

>>>>to important people like senators, independent game developers, to get

>>>>petitions signed, and send it to some senators to get some kind of

>>>>nationwide talk on this and finally a regulated necessity standard?

>>>>

>>>>I think it's a very good and noble thing to do. Thinking of it in a way

>>>>that it's an industry that has ignored and does not have any future plans

>>>>for any big deals for accessibility for people. Especially in the United

>>>>States is our Constitution write to have fair access to all forms of

>>>>entertainment. To not allow people access to their product is

>>>>discrimination.

>>>>

>>>>Again this is something I have proposed before nobody said they wanted to

>>>>work on it and I don't know why it seems like a great thing to do. Stand

>>>>up

>>>>for our rights that's what the government is there to help us to

>>>>especially

>>>>in a billion-dollar industry making millions and millions but ignoring

>the

>>>>rest seems wrong.

>>>>

>>>>Robert

>>>>

>>>>_______________________________________________

>>>>games_access mailing list

>>>>games_access at igda.org

>>>>http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access

>>>

>>>

>>>

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>>

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