On Saturday, December 5, 2015, I had the pleasure of speaking with Craig Kaufman; a Sr. Events Manager with the AbleGamers Charity. We spoke for a while about the charity organization itself, and I got to know a bit more about the great work they do for gamers who have disabilities.
What is AbleGamers?
For anyone who doesn’t know, the AbleGamers Charity is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the overall quality of life for individuals with all sorts of disabilities through the awesome power of video games. Headquartered in West Virginia, USA, they have the largest community portal for gamers with disabilities anywhere in the world, and have a worldwide network of volunteers.
How did the foundation start, and what do they do?
Founded in 2004 by Mark Barlet and Stephanie Walker, AbleGamers started because Ms. Walker’s disability prohibited her from playing the games that she loved. After being unsuccessful in searching the internet for options & solutions to help her, Mr. Bartlet & Ms. Walker started the charity to be the group that they wanted to see in the world. They like playing games, and it’s their passion to make sure that everyone can game.
The foundation has been very active in consulting, to improve the accessibility of video games. They provide free consultation for both AAA and independent titles, and with their constantly-updated set of accessibility guidelines, they strive to reach the highest possible level of accessibility for these games. AbleGamers also provides reviews on games, as well as assistive gaming technology. These reviews are highly regarded as important material in improving the accessibility of not only the individual games, but the hardware that is available. Additionally, they work closely with game developers to make video games more accessible with options like colorblind modes, button remapping, & subtitles. They also help to raise money to purchase accessible gaming equipment for those who cannot afford it. One of their major accomplishments was the creation of a free online guide to help game developers implement the mechanics that gamers with disabilities would need. The video game industry has really taken to these suggestions
How can YOU help?
Being a non-profit organization, the AbleGamers Foundation operates largely on donations from the public. They maintain one of the highest ratios for donations, with $0.92 of every $1.00 going directly to their related projects. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from their online shop goes directly to their projects; as well as towards raising awareness, grants, and research & development. They also have referral links for Amazon, HumbleBundle,and GreenManGaming. All of these links help AbleGamers raise money to assist gamers with disabilities. The public’s support also helps AbleGamers with accessible technology, as well as their accessible reviews, and many informative resources, which allow game developers to make the most accessible games possible. In 2015, these sources, plus independent donations, helped to raise over $425,000!
AbleGamers is always working on their next fundraising activities, as well as having a lot of stuff in store for 2016. If you want to keep in the loop on the AbleGamers Charity and their activities, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and Instagram.