For The AbleGamers Foundation, there is one clear measure of success: enabling a better quality of life for people with disabilities. We've developed a targeted approach to how we spend our time and resources that helps us identify and prioritize the relevant science that will allow us to reach our goal.
Educating the End User
Creating a safe place for gamers with disabilities was how The AbleGamers Foundation started. In 2004, AGF founded AbleGamers.com the first of its kind community designed to be a place for the unique community to meet up and discuss gaming, disability, and gaming with a disability. AbleGamers.com has grown into a healthy and diverse mix of gamers representing well over 200 disabilities and now sees traffic well over 2 million hits a month.
We extend this outreach with events like our Game Accessibility Arcade, which was held in 2010 at Washington DC, Boston Massachusetts, and Indianapolis Indiana. These events allow people with disabilities, as well as care-takers, researchers, and advocates to get a “hands-on” demonstration with some of the top cutting edge hardware and software in Game Accessibility.
Educating Content Producers
The key to reaching our goal of access to as many people as possible starts well before the first line of code is ever created for a title; game accessibility starts in the lecture halls of our universities, and design meetings in conference rooms deep in the walls of some of the largest game studios on Earth. If accessibility is part of the discussion from the start, the end product will be accessible to more gamers when it is released.
The AbleGamers Foundation accomplishes this through constantly working with designers, developers, and testers in the game industry to educate them on the needs of gamer with disabilities and present them with industry tested solutions that can employ to create great games that are highly accessible. We have presented at large industry events like the Game Developers Conference, Penny Arcade Exchange and Games for Health, and smaller more hands on events at colleges and universities across the US.
Support Hardware and Software Development
Hardware is how everyone communicates with the technology in our lives, and for a person with disabilities that is no different. The AbleGamers Foundation works with those on the cutting edge of hardware design to come up with innovative and useful products that helps empower the community to fully engage in gaming, and improve their quality of life.
Software is also a key to the enabling process; we work with developers to educate them on the needs, and to help them test the final product. Be it SDK's for a platform or drivers for a device, we are there to lend a hand in getting it into the community.
Most of all, the AbleGamers foundation demonstrates how to best use assistive technology to re-enable gamers who have lost the ability to play using every day means. From our highly regarded, and first of its kind, review section where we describe exactly how to go about playing mainstream titles to the generous support of our community that gives free consulting to anyone who needs an idea how to get back into gaming, no one is beyond the reach of game accessibility.
Support Research in Healthcare Outcomes
The AbleGamer's Foundation is always supportive of research as a means to identify new technologies and adaptations for accessible digital media. The Foundation itself has made consultative contributions to the development and implementation of devices through research and design. The foundation and it's Board of Directors also supports the research agenda of both the industrial and academic institutions that contribute to the further accessibility of this media. The AbleGamers Foundation will support any research associated with this genre through consultation, acting as a resource, searching for appropriate participant, and it is our hope that in the future w will be able to assist through funding.
Educate Caregivers on the Quality of Life factors
We work with disability specific support groups to come up with topics that they can address on the local level. Educating caregivers, parents, and friends who may not have an understanding of the gaming world, and therefore do not see it as a valid option for their loved one.
Gaming often comes with a stigma of childish, lazy behavior, which does nothing but waste time. We see things a little bit differently. Gaming can be a wonderful outlet to the world for the bedridden gamer with muscular dystrophy; needed distraction for the sick child dealing with medical problems far beyond his years; helping hand to the wounded veteran who desperately needs a way to de-stress while healing the battle scars.
The AbleGamers foundation helps educate caretakers on the benefits of gaming for rehabilitation and quality-of-life improvement by removing the stigma and demonstrating just how wonderful gaming can be for those who need it.
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