Assistive Technology – Gaming With Your Chin

Controller mounted to a desk with words "Gaming with your chin"

 

Hello Ability Powered gamers!  Today I would like to talk to you about my latest assistive technology setup that helps me play games such as first person shooters, minecraft, and many other games that were previously unavailable to me since I play with onscreen keyboard.  With this current setup I can now control my character with my chin.  There are a few different components that I use like a game pad controller, a mount, a switch interface, switches, and the program Joy-to-Key Let me explain how it works

 

My Controller

For the controller you can use a few different options.  You can use an Xbox controller or a game pad sold for PC gaming like the one I chose to use.  I chose the game pad because the thumb sticks have less resistance than the Xbox thumb sticks.  I also bought some thumb grips to extend each stick a little higher you reduce the resistance a little bit more.

 

Game Pad mounted on an articulating arm with monitor in the background.

My Mount

There are many different kinds of mounts you can purchase that will help you put your game pad into the position that you need it.  Some of which are very expensive, but you don’t have to go that route!  There are different kinds of mounts that more or less will do the same thing as the expensive mounts.  You can even make your own with this handy guide from Oneswitch that is made from a selfie stick and an articulating arm.  While I was looking for articulating arms I came across something else I thought would work really well and it did.  It’s the Universal Smart Phone Stand by Neewer. It is actually a mount meant to hold cell phones.  With a little bit of black electrical tape, I was able to secure my game pad controller onto the plate for mounting.  So far it has worked great.

 

Articulating arm extended with game controller mounted on it

 

My Switch Interface

If you read my post about switches and switch interface you will know that you have to have a switch interface in order to add a switch to your computer.  The switch interface I’m using is the XKeys USB 3.  I chose it because it seemed fairly simple for a beginner like me to setup.  It is simple!  You just plug it into your computer in a USB Port, connect your switch, and then assign the switch a function in the software that is included with the switch interface.  Super easy to do.

 

Xkeys USB 3 Switch Interface

My Switch

The switch I chose comes from Enablemart and is categorized as a sensitive switch.  This means it takes very little pressure to push down the button.  The switch itself is small enough to fit inside my hand and takes about as much pressure as it does to click a mouse.  It also has a sticky back if you want to mount it somewhere else.

 

Hand holding an assistive technology switch

Joy to Key

Joy to Key is free software you can use to turn joystick movements into keyboard presses.  You can assign a thumb stick to act as the W key when you press it up, act as the A key when you push it to the left, etc..  You can assign any keyboard command needed in a game to the thumb sticks or to your switches if they are configured correctly.  It gives you so many more choices when remapping keys.

 

Putting It All Together

Once you have the controller mounted you can attach the other end to a table or desk near your chair.  Now you can swivel the controller around and adjust it up, down, side to side, however you need it to easily press the thumb sticks with your chin.  Place your switches where ever you need them to easily pressed them.  So far I have only needed at most two so I hold one in my right hand and put one on my neck rest behind my head so I can lean my head back whenever I need to press it.  You can make multiple game profiles in joy to key and configure the key presses to what ever keybinds you might need to play the game with.  For example, when I play Minecraft I walk forward by pushing the thumb stick up, jump by pressing the thumb stick left, open inventory by pressing a thumb stick down, use an item by pressing the left mouse button, and place blocks with my right click button which is assigned to my switch.

Gnome in WheelchairI know it may sound complicated, but setting everything up was actually really easy once I learned how to do it thanks to a lot of help from Barry Ellis of oneswitch.org.  He helped me figure out everything I needed and how to set it up.  Hopefully I can pass on this information to any of you guys who are interested in setting up an assistive technology gaming setup like this.  I will be posting some more more in depth looks at each of the products I am using currently but if you have any more questions that I may miss in these, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  It doesn’t have to be complicated to get back into gaming.  But don’t take my word for it, look for more posts about my equipment.

Why I Love: The Ironman Challenge

WoWScrnShot_031316_190055

Hello Ability Powered Gamers! This weekend I started an epic adventure in Warcraft. If you played late in Cataclysm you might remember a challenge that swept Azeroth as players grew more and more weary of the end of expansion blues. It was called The Ironman Challenge. Your mission?  Reach level 100 without dying. Oh but there’s more! You can only wear grey or white gear, you can’t party, you can’t have talents, you can’t…  well just check the official rules here.  Needless to say, it’s a huge challenge.

I have always been drawn to this and have had my share of failed attempts. I always take a break after a painful death but eventually there I am starting a new IronShort. I have narrowed it down to two main reasons why I always come back.

WoWScrnShot_031116_181034I love Azeroth. It gets easy to become disenchanted with it at times though. It’s our own fault really. When a new Alpha opens, it begins.  Sites start data mining,  we go look at every item, mount and pet. There’s guides going up on how to get these things and we read them. Videos are posted of raid bosses and we rush to watch them. We love our game, it’s natural, but when launch day comes we already know everything. We know how to get the new mounts, we know where quests lead, and we have seen the bosses.

We have new content but no surprise. We have a new world but no unseen adventure. The same thing happens every PTR update. We have the information to run through content without needing to really focus on what we’re doing and seeing. We put on gear that makes us untouchable and we fly through content.  By the end of the expansion we grumble about how there’s nothing to do, not enough to see, it’s too easy.  Enter the Ironman Challenge.

WoWScrnShot_031116_113836

I guarantee if you commit to the challenge, even off and on, you will see Azeroth in a whole new way. If you die, it’s game over so every quest or kill demands your complete focus.  Does this mob enrage? Does that mob stun? These are things you HAVE TO pay attention to. What about the quest? Is it in an area that is crowded by mobs? Do they respawn fast? What is the safest route to go? What is the closest safe place to log out? Warcraft becomes exciting.  It’s no longer something you can plow through without thought. Your decisions could make or break your character.  You have to navigate through the content masterfully.

Speaking of navigation, that brings me to my second reason why I love the Ironman Challenge. I think it is a perfect challenge to show how accessibility friendly Warcraft is. I have gone to war before against accessibility reviews that knocked Warcraft accessibility (and I always will).  Is it perfect? No. We need rotate buttons on Move Pad,  ways for keyboard only gamers to use AOE spells which require you to target the area, and less jumping puzzles for treasure chest which require detailed jumps (Especially if it’s tied to unlocking flying skill).  Do these things make the game unplayable?  No.

WoWScrnShot_031316_130218

So dear readers, I am throwing my hat in the ring again. I am entering the Bloodthirsty Ironman Challenge which I guarantee you need to be able to move well to complete. You guys know how I play…  a mixture of click to walk and Move Pad.  Just me and my mouse. Will I die? Most definitely but it won’t be because Warcraft is hard to navigate, it’ll be something dumb I did. I may die multiple times but I will die seeing the world in a new way… Having to focus on my surroundings. Wearing gear that doesn’t let me plow through enemies. I will have excitement each pull and be fearful of my characters death. I will be playing Warcraft the way I did 9 years ago when I first started and you can too! Check out WowChallenges.com and try it out. Never again can you say Warcraft is too easy or that there’s nothing to do.

 

Oversized Bobber adds Accessibility to Azeroth for many Disabled Gamers

Hello Ability Powered gamers! We have been adventuring through the new Legion Alpha and discovered something that will make may of you guys happy. It’s called an Oversized Bobber.

What does it do?

The oversized bobber is an item that increases the size of your bobber dramatically. It’s actually bigger than my gnome! ! found it for sale on the fishing vendors in the major cities for 2g 50s for a stack of 5.

Oversized Bobber vendor in Stormwind. The effect lasts 30 minutes and the bobbers stack to 20,  This should give you plenty for those long fishing trips in Azeroth.

Oversized Bobber buff "This fishing bobber is giant size!"

 

Why is it important?

Tweet "Russ Petersen ‏@nite_moogle Feb 19 .@AbilityPowered it was actually a community suggestion from a disabled gamer. Happy we got it in!"

This is exactly why it is such an important addition to Legion. Azeroth is full of a huge variety of people and many play with a disability of some type. Fishing is a part of the game that is important to people chasing achievement points, getting the best food for raiding, farming pets and mounts and many other things. The Oversized Bobber keeps fishing accessible and makes it easier for gamers with a variety of disabilities. People with visual impairments can see the new bobber much easier while gamers who want to reduce mouse movement now have a larger area to aim for when clicking on the bobber.

Gnome fishing on a bank.oversized-bobber6

Final Thoughts

Gnome in WheelchairThe Oversized Bobber is definitely much easier to see and will help a lot of various disabled gamers enjoy fishing a lot more. I worry about the trolls of Azeroth abusing it’s size to interfere with other gamers, much like they do when they make their mounts huge and sit on mailboxes. but hopefully the fact it’s only usable in water will help. Another concern I have is the price. Sure those of us who have garrisons have enough gold to fill Stormwind Keep with bobbers, but new players who need the bobbers due to visual or physical impairments might not be able to afford them early on. Since the Bobber is intended to be something to help gamers and isn’t something to increase skill, it would be nice to see it priced lower for new players.  We are in early beta and nothing is set in stone yet but if prices stay at 2g 50s I urge guilds to keep a stack in the guild bank if you frequently have new players joining your ranks.

I am incredibly proud that Blizzard heard the cries of a disabled gamer in the community and came up with a solution to make the game more accessible. It says a lot about the company when they make items to make their game more inclusive. It also gives me hope that we will continue seeing this trend. Maybe someday even rotate buttons on the move pad!  Great job, Blizzard!

So what do you guys think of the new Oversized Bobber? Let me know in the comments!

Addons for Accessibility – Say Sapped


Hello Ability Powered Gamers and welcome back to another Addons for Accessibility! This week we are going to look at an addon for PVP. It’s called Say Sapped. Say Sapped does exactly what you would think it does. It announces to the people around you in range of /say that you have been sapped to let them know a rogue is near and you need help or the need to protect the objective.

Gnome in WheelchairFor some gamers with disabilities this is a useful addon because it saves you time typing.  In PVP things move fast and if you need onscreen keyboard to type you know how slow that can sometimes be. Removing the need to type while still alerting your team makes this a great addon for accessibility.  But don’t take my word for it, check it out on curse!

http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/saysapped

If you have a addon you would like to see on Addons for Accessibility leave a comment and let me know what it is! I would love to check it out and share it with other Ability Powered Gamers!

 

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15