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Gamers Forge Their Own Paths When It Comes to Accessibility

AbleGamers founder Mark Barlet holds modified video game controller

AbleGamers founder Mark Barlet holds a modified video game controller with accessibility features.

Credit: Matt Roth / The Washington Post

When Mark Barlet realized there weren't many gaming resources available for a friend with multiple sclerosis, he and Stephen Spohn helmed a solution that would change countless lives. They created AbleGamers and turned a personal mission into a global vision of video game accessibility for all.

Spohn, AbleGamers' COO, has spinal muscular atrophy, which attacks his muscles and limits movement from the neck down. "We entered an industry with a bunch of staircases and brought our own ramps."

AbleGamers' impact on the disabled gaming community isn't always well publicized. In 2011, they unveiled the Adroit Switchblade, an accessible controller. Years later, Microsoft took notice, saw the controller's potential, and worked with AbleGamers in secret to create its spiritual successor, the Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller. This controller is a household staple for people with disabilities and is much more affordable than the Switchblade.

AbleGamers offers an intensive certification course to design games with an eye for accessibility. They support innovative, specialized controllers and give them to gamers in need.

From Wired
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