Back in December 2015, I wrote about the Able Gamers Charity; a USA-based organization whose mission is to help adapt video game software, firmware and even hardware to better allow people with disabilities the chance to play their favorite games. We love the work that they do, and continue to applaud them. We didn’t want to exclude those of you “across the pond”, however. Today, I wanted to share with you the story of another organization that has much the same mission.
Founded by Dr. Mick Donegan, Special Effect is an Oxfordshire, UK-based organization which works to develop assistive technology, or modify existing technology, in order for people of all ages & ability level to enjoy gaming. The team is made up of physical & occupational therapists, as well as some of the industry’s leading games technology specialists. These folks travel all over the UK, assessing & helping those who may benefit from their services, attending functions like the Eurogamer Expo, and working with tech companies to ensure their products are accessible to everyone. They have worked on assistive technology for high-profile games like FIFA, Football Manager, Call of Duty, MineCraft and Team Fortress. However, they’ve also worked to adapt simple pastime games like computer chess, or Sudoku, and even things as seemingly mundane as switch-operated ball-throwers for interacting with the family dog!
Like Able Gamers, Special Effect is a non-profit organization. They don’t charge for their one-on-one consultations, nor do they sell any products. They operate completely on private donations & fundraisers. Word-of-mouth, event attendance and social media is how knowledge of them is spread. Donations to the organization go directly to R&D, travel expenses for consultations, etc. Special Effect also has a referral link through Humble Bundle, for which a portion of the proceeds of game sales will go to the organization, as well as various ways in which people can donate directly.
Special Effect is always working on ground-breaking projects and lots of events; all of which are intended to bring about awareness of the amazing technology that’s out there, or to raise money to fund their operations. If you want to keep abreast of their goings-on, you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or even subscribe to their YouTube channel.
As a person with a lifelong disability, a die-hard gamer, and someone who is fascinated by advancements in technology, I’m so pleased to see that organizations like Special Effect and the Able Gamers Charity exist. Over the course of my life, a lot of disabled people I’ve met have expressed to me that they would love to be able to play games more easily, and that they sometimes feel left out when their friends talk about the fun they have with gaming. Now, however, I can tell them that there is help out there! Organizations like these are an amazing asset to the disabled population, and I can’t wait to see what new stuff they come up with in the future.