[games_access] Games for Health to Invest in Games Accessibility

hinn at uiuc.edu hinn at uiuc.edu
Fri Nov 16 11:25:33 EST 2007

Hey everyone -- so Ben and I have been discussing this for a time now and we're working together to come up with a plan as to how to best use this generous donation, find matching funds, etc. So this is the real deal! So, hey, we have some money now! So put on your thinking caps and help us think of ways to best invest our money so that it helps the SIG long-term!

And thanks to Ben, of course, for his incredible support and including us in this initiative!


---- Original message ----

>Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 08:54:26 -0500

>From: Ben Sawyer <bsawyer at dmill.com>

>Subject: [games_access] Games for Health to Invest in Games Accessibility

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


>Hi everyone,


>I've got some big news. As many of you saw Games for Health is part

>of a new round of investment by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

>into games and healthcare. We're extremely excited about this new



>As part of our specific grant we have allocated resources

>specifically to support the IGDA Accessibility community.


>Over the next two years we will directly contribute funds to SIG

>activities. The amount is set but I can't reveal it yet as much as I

>want to because I'm actually looking to make it more by finding some

>other organizations who will join us with matching funds. Right now

>I can tell you this - it's more then $10,000.


>The funds will be used to support your activities but there are of

>course some simple strings. Basically the funds will be released

>once there is a written plan in place that provides for how and what

>the funds will be spent on. That plan needs my approval and

>subsequently I have to have the approval of the foundation for all my

>work. I don't want it to sound dictatorish -- I'm pretty liberal for

>what they should be used for but my basic goals are as follows:


>1. I'd like to see the community double is size as outlined by some

>simple metrics (i.e. number of subscribers to the listserv, number of

>people in the industry you are in regular contact with, number of

>talks in front of audiences, etc.)


>2. I'd like to see the community produce some written plans that

>outline roadmaps for better accessibility efforts -- especially

>research roadmap.


>3. I want to establish a standalone conference on games accessibility

>attached to our Games for Health Conference (so we can combine

>logistics and hit on overlapping communities of interest).


>4. I am also specifically interested in identifying and doing what we

>can to nurture research into how accessibility to games improves

>people with disabilities mentally, socially, and physically.

>Eventually leading to some great empirical and evidence based

>research published - to the extent we don't already have this.


>Beyond those goals I look to everyone here in the community to really

>drive things. So the restriction is the production of a plan that

>seems smartly aimed toward these goals. Within that framework the

>funds can support travel subsidies, creating really nice brochures,

>improved Web site content and access, etc.


>I've already discussed the gist of this with Michelle and I've asked

>her to produce with everyones help the plan and present it to me

>before the end of the year. The funds are for 2008 and 2009.


>Games Accessibility Conference

>I am very serious as I've said before in establishing a one-day

>conference on games accessibility along side our Games for Health

>Conference. We have facilities, hotel blocks, registration systems,

>logistical support, massive PR support, already in place for this.


>The date to hold this would be May 7, 2008 which is the day before

>Games for Health opens. It would be a one day conference with a

>single track to start and a demo area. We would also probably

>feature 2 sessions on accessibility at Games for Health on Thursday

>and Friday. I hope this date works for everyone as much as possible

>- I can't really move it. Hopefully it just works as best it can.

>In 2009 we hope to have more flexibility for you.


>I want the SIG to take on the role of developing the content. My

>only stipulation is 25% of the content MUST be focused on talks that

>explore how accessibility technologies, research, and efforts can be

>applied to health for people with permanent, temporary, or on-setting

>disabilities. The rest of the content can be focused on core needs,

>case studies, research, etc. that will improve the accessibility of

>games in general for any purpose -- especially entertainment.


>Speakers would attend for free. All other registrants would be

>charged an amount <$200 to attend. My goal is that the event be

>break-even or even profitable within itself. I would share 50% of

>the profits from the event back to the SIG by adding it to the grant

>funds we have available. The other funds if there is a profit would

>be reinvested for planning the following year, etc.


>We very much want to make this event happen. The Robert Wood Johnson

>Foundation team we work with has someone on it with deep contacts in

>the accessibility community and is going to talk with a variety of

>government agencies involved with accessibility to drive them to

>support this event. That becomes a doorway to driving them to

>support more pervasive accessibility activities.


>We will be promoting this event heavily to all our attendees. We

>will be filming parts of it, we will make an expo area available to

>showcase work, and we will have dedicated PR staff on the event.


>The event is to be held in Baltimore, MD which is served by Southwest

>Airlines which makes it pretty inexpensive to get to. We are also

>quite proximate to the federal government which is a big plus. We've

>got two hotels blocked out and we're searching for an ultra

>inexpensive block as well.


>My goal is to have 50-100 people attend the event. My hopes are

>25-50% stay over for the rest of our event that week so yes from a

>total transparency standpoint I'm hoping this increases my

>conference's core profitability. Win-win.


>If there is a good sense we can pull of the conference idea as

>planned I want to make it part of our conference announcements in the

>coming weeks. I also will be including games accessibility in our

>call for content next week. We expect to then forward those papers

>to a committee formed here to accept and mold that content. I will

>advise you on content just from my experience of organizing events

>but other then the 25% requirement I really leave it to you as the

>experts to decide what will be important for people to hear and learn




>So hopefully you're still digesting this all but the reason I'm

>writing this all and providing as much information as I can is I need

>the following help - please reply to the list with your thoughts:


>1. I do need general feedback - ask questions, provide comments, I

>will do my best to answer them.


>2. I need NAMES of people you think are in a position or at

>organizations in a position to possibly decide to match our funds. I

>really want our funds to catalyze others to chip in. There is no

>reason this can't eventually snowball to generate over $100,000 or

>more in due time. At least that's my hope.


>I am already reaching out to Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, IBM and a few

>others. The early reception has been ok but until we release this

>more publicly I expect things to be slow to develop. If you give me

>more names I'll follow up hard.



>The basic outline for this all for me is as follows:


>1. I want to announce the funds and the goals for them before Xmas.

>My goal is we have 2 other funders matching 50% or more of the funds

>by then so they can be named in the Press Release.


>2. I want to then announce in the press release that the original

>funders are challenging anyone else with resources to join this

>funding -- as part of this I was thinking it'd be cool to setup an

>individual fundraising effort too - let gamers, and individual

>developers provide funds to match the larger gifts.


>3. In order to accomplish points 1 & 2 the goal would be to have a

>basic plan in place because the core goals of that plan would be

>articulated to the public so they can understand what the funds will

>hopefully accomplish. Ultimately if we raised enough my hopes are it

>would accomplish funding development of more accessibility

>technologies, standards, and SDKs to make it easier for all game

>developers to put these features in their games. I also hope it

>might fund prototypes or games that are specific for people with

>disabilities like some of the audio only games we've seen from the

>community thus far.



>I've been following the work of the SIG and all of you here for

>sometime. As I've said many times the work here is extremely

>relevant to the work I do on serious games, and games for health.

>I've been hoping to bring some funds to the table to help and while

>it's not as much as I wanted if I can parlay it with your help into a

>large enough amount it hopefully can help be the fuel for the spark

>you've more then created.


>Thank you all,








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these are mediocre times and people are
losing hope. it's hard for many people
to believe that there are extraordinary
things inside themselves, as well as
others. i hope you can keep an open
-- "unbreakable"

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