Charities welcome Xbox controller for people with disabilities

 In news, updates

A new Xbox and Windows 10 controller that enables people with disabilities plug-in the digital assistive aids they already own to play games has been welcomed by charities.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller allows those with limited mobility to use their own buttons, joysticks and switches to mimic a standard controller, so they can play any videogame.

This allows them to choose which assistive aid will make a game character jump, run or shoot, for instance, without relying on pressing specific buttons on the controller that came with the Xbox, says the gaming console’s maker, Microsoft.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller, which can be connected to any Xbox One or Windows 10 PC via Bluetooth, features 19 3.5mm input jacks and two USB ports. Gamers can plug their third-party devices into these, with specific support for PDP’s One-Handed Joystick, Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro Joystick and Quadstick’s Game Controller.

Two large, easy-to-press programmable buttons and a D-pad means it can also be used as a standalone controller. The internal lithium-ion battery can be recharged, eliminating the need to change small batteries.

“Milestone collaboration”

The device has been applauded by charities and gamers with disabilities, who say it will help them continue to enjoy something they love as well as connect with other people and be more independent.

There are around a billion people across the world with a disability, including 13.9 million people in the UK. Research from Muscular Dystrophy UK  found that one-in-three gamers has been forced to stop playing videogames due to their disability.

“This has been a milestone collaboration for us,” said Dr Mick Donegan, Founder & Chief Executive at SpecialEffect, one of the charities that worked with Microsoft to develop the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

“Our experience in helping people with complex physical disabilities to access videogames has enabled us to provide not only very relevant advice about features and design, but also direct feedback from a user-centred perspective.”

The new Xbox Adaptive Controller “will make a real difference to disabled people, particularly those with a muscle-wasting condition whose movements will become increasingly limited over time,” said Nic Bungay, Director of the Care, Campaigns & Information team at Muscular Dystrophy UK, another of the consultative partners that help develop the new product.

“We know from our own research that video games are important to many disabled people. It allows them to socialise and compete with others on an equal basis, which has a positive effect on their wellbeing.”

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