Accessible Technology Day at MIT and Helping to Break Social Isolation
Teachers, students, and families were able to get a glimpse of accessible technology during the Cambridge Science Festival. Partners from different areas of inclusive design came together for MIT Museum’s Accessible Technology Day to showcase what’s out there today and what may be possible in the near future.
Once the doors to Accessible Technology Day opened up, a crowd quickly grew around our booth. We had people of all ages taking turns with the demo and learning more about accessibility in gaming. AbleGamers got to showcase the Xbox Accessible Controller along with some examples of joystick and switch combinations. Many of the visitors mentioned how they loved seeing the Adaptive Controller’s ad on TV during the Superbowl; now they could get a hands-on experience to test it for themselves.
AbleGamers gets the privilege to be a part of some great stories. These stories tend to start when someone can see how these types of technologies can help their friends and relatives. That day, we saw a young girl get so happy that she jumped in excitement, turned and looked up, saying “Mom! Lilly can use this!! Can we get one so she can play with us?!” Knowing that they’ll be able to share fun moments with their loved ones touches our hearts.
We had a special visitor stop by, a robot! Ok, the robot was being controlled by a human. While our conversation was going back and forth seamlessly with how great the two-way audio and video feed were, it reminded me of how technology is advancing. In gaming, we enjoy the entertainment and social aspects that bond gamers from around the world. Although this focus is on video games, it can be used differently as well.
While the robot surprised us, the use of robots isn’t that unusual to countries like Japan. They have been used in offices and schools for those that can’t physically be there due to health reasons. There are pilot tests being run today that have robots controlled by people with disabilities at cafes. People can remotely greet and wait on guests, take orders, and serve food. There are plans to have a permanent cafe in Japan by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics which could create more job opportunities for those that already have a difficult time given their health situations.
The Accessible Technology Day that AbleGamers took part in showed that technology of all sorts can be used to break social isolation. While in certain parts of the world robot technology is used to break through those obstatcles, AbleGamers is doing similar work at home with accessible gaming technology. With further advancements, the two technologies might even cross paths more intimately to help more people, continuing the AbleGamers goal of doing whatever it takes so everyone can game.
Prin is a Senior Volunteer with AbleGamers. When she’s not gaming or spending time with her adorable and sweet pup Jäeger, she’s a black belt in martial arts thanks to her father, a Martial Arts Master. Watch her play games and see Jäeger on her Twitch Channel, or see photos of her sushi on her Twitter.