[games_access] What is this SIG? (Thomas Westin)

Ian Hamilton i_h at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 8 08:31:10 EDT 2012

Aaron: are you the same Aaron from one in a million? If so are you heading to London?

Thomas: Put far better than me! Two things in particular -

> ? Learn from accessibility design in other areas, like the Web Accessibility Initiative at W3C.

> #5: As far as I can recall, this point has not been very followed-up, and it should be, just keeping in mind that games is rather different than hypertext.

>From my angle what there is to learn from them isn't accessibly itself, it's looking back at how the accessibility agenda progressed in industries that are far further ahead than games. That's certainly happening, for example the healthy debate the other week about legislation in web & construction. The history of other industries provides a pretty good basis for a roadmap. It's also interesting to look at more recent things too, like how mobile accessibility is progressing and what's driving that.

> Creating standards: I believe that standardization is good in many ways, but it is also very hard; it takes a lot of time, resources and industry involvement. Then, the next thing is to get developers to use those standards. Many websites for instance still doesn't use the alt-tag for images, an extremely simple thing to do but time is limited, not just for game developers :) If you want to go the standardization route, you should first team up with Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Blizzard and similar big players. After 9 years it has not happened yet, but of course it is something to strive for. Anyone who feels like picking up this huge gauntlet, feel free to do so.

Picked up. Hopefully that's something useful that I can bring to the table as I have a background in standards & guidelines. I've had internal accessibility standards successfully written and implemented within a prolific publisher, they've been mandatory for every one of their internal games and third party commissions over the past two years.

Having said that though, doing something internally where a mandate can be passed at a corporate level is a bit different to across an industry - you can't jump straight to standards. EA turning around and saying that all of their games must comply with a basic level of accessibility isn't helpful when there isn't any knowledge amongst developers. I've seen precisely that happen before and fail, it needs to come bottom up as well as top down.

So guidelines & best practices have to come first. There's already plenty of knowledge and previous guidelines work in existence, so it's a case of pulling that all together, getting it up to date, and into a developer / exec friendly format. For reviewing/feedback I have some good contacts for input outside of the usual developers & GA experts, such as an ex-BSI standards consultant, and the BBC's head of accessibility & usability.

And then yes, critically, getting people to use them. Can't move beyond loose guidelines until there are plenty of proven case studies of them in use. I have a couple of initial developers lined up, but if anyone on the list has links with a developer who might be interested in some guidance then please let me know!

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