Developer accessibility resources V1.1

The resources collected here can help developers create more accessible and inclusive experiences. These resources do not include any paid services external to Xbox or Microsoft. This list will be updated as accessibility knowledge in this space grows and advances.

If you have any questions, feedback, or updated content, please email the Gaming Accessibility Team.

Version 1.1 was published May 16, 2022. To view the change history, see Developer accessibility resources - Version history

Accessibility guidance

Microsoft accessibility guidance

Developers can use these resources to learn how to align their game with the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) while connecting with the gaming and disability community to help make this goal a reality.

  • Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAG): Set of best practices for creating accessible gaming experiences at Xbox. The XAGs have been developed in partnership with industry experts and members of the gaming & disability community.

  • Gaming and Disability Player Experience Guide (GADPEG): A supplemental resource to the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines providing game developers a holistic understanding of the barriers that players with certain types of disabilities may experience.

Guidelines outside Microsoft

  • Game Accessibility Guidelines: Accessibility guidelines presented in a straightforward developer friendly way broken down into three categories, basic, intermediate, and advanced. These guidelines have been created by a group of studios, specialists, and academics.

  • Accessible Player Experience (APX): A data driven set of design patterns from the AbleGamers Charity based on input from hundreds of players with disabilities to help developers innovate new accessibility options in their games early in their design lifecycle.

Connecting with customers

  • Xbox Accessibility Insider League (XAIL): A special group within the Xbox Insiders Program with over 100 thousand players who have interest in accessibility. Developers can use XAIL to connect with players invested in accessibility and obtain feedback on game builds.

  • AbleGamers Player Panels: A service that connects studios and technology developers with hundreds of players with disabilities for input into game design or playtesting.

Documentation

Documentation about a game’s accessibility is incredibly important as it can help gamers with disabilities make informed purchased decisions. These resources can help developers learn how to document the accessibility of their game.

Features

  • Accessibility Feature Tags: Developers can identify accessibility features in their game by tagging the features outlined on this page. This metadata helps players find games with desired accessibility features in Xbox stores. Documentation linking these tags to relevant XAGs is also included.

  • The Family Gaming Database - Accessibility Data: The Family Gaming Database is a huge searchable resource for families to search and find games that meet the needs of any player. When searching, accessibility features can be selected to filter search results to games that may be able to meet specific needs. This accessibility search criteria can even be combined with other criteria, like age rating, genre, playstyle, and more to truly refine game searches.

    • Developers can add accessibility info for their game to the database by filling out a questionnaire. The questionnaire asks developers a series of questions that aim to guide them through the kinds of designs and features that their game may offer players. To learn more, visit: Create An Accessibility Page For Your Video Game
  • PlayStation 5 Console Accessibility: PlayStation 5 has an extensive accessibility menu including a Display area where a player can customize platform text size, change to bold text, and reduce motion.

  • Ubisoft Game Accessibility Features: Ubisoft’s website allows you to search for “accessibility” and find game articles detailing the accessibility features available in those titles. Developers can use this resource to learn more about these features as well as how to communicate about them on their game’s product detail pages.

Authoring documentation

  • How to Write in Plain English: Guide teaching writers, and game developers, how to write in plain English which can help increase the accessibility of text for any player.

Courses and trainings

Learning how to bake accessibility into game development can seem like a huge undertaking, but being open to learning is the biggest and best first step to take! These resources are some free and paid offerings to learn how to create accessible experiences.

Free training courses (self-study)

  • Gaming Accessibility Fundamentals Learning Path: Free learning path that provides an introduction to the basics of gaming accessibility concepts and the opportunity to learn more about the experiences of gamers with disabilities.

  • SpecialEffect DevKit: Free resource created for game developers to help them make games more accessible for players with physical disabilities. Covers various topics including configuring interactions, continuous holds, repeated presses, and input methods through a series of videos. Created by SpecialEffect.

Video playlists

These YouTube playlists are filled with various length videos that can give a great introduction into how developers can make accessible games.

Conferences

These conferences offer opportunities to learn about gaming accessibility and everything that surrounds it including the larger field of digital accessibility.

Free conferences

  • GAconf (Gaming Accessibility Conference): Conferences focused on gaming accessibility. GAconf offers all developers and members of the disability and gaming community learning opportunities, inspiration, and new contacts all with the focus on making gaming as accessible and inclusive as possible.

  • Axe-con: Conference focused on digital accessibility that can offer game developers insight into creating more accessible experiences even outside of gaming, like on various game stores and other resources related to the games they develop.

Other conferences

  • Game Developer Conference (GDC): Conference that is the game industry’s premier professional event. Sessions address all areas of game development.

  • CSUN Assistive Technology Conference: The world’s longest running and largest conference covering all topics of assistive technology. Developers can attend to learn more about assistive technology through a wide array of topics including gaming.

Talks

We have curated a list of talks to help you create accessible gaming experiences. Many are by developers themselves as well as gamers with disabilities and advocates.

Accessibility journey of games

  • ScourgeBringer: an Indie Accessibility Post-Mortem: GaConf Europe 2021 talk discussing how a developer brought accessibility to a very difficult game called ScourgeBringer. Much of the game’s accessibility is thanks to inclusive game design via the game’s art direction, audio design, and game play mechanics. On top of that, the game has an extensive settings menu where players can customize the game as needed.

  • Driving Accessibility Advancements in Watch Dogs: Legion: GaConf Europe 2021 talk from a developer of Watch Dogs: Legion sharing an inside view and tips on how to build accessibility into the game including remapping, visualized sound effects, and aim lock-on.

  • SEQUENCE STORM: a Solo Developer's Musical Experiment in Accessibility: GaConf 2020 talk discussing how accessibility was implemented into SEQUENCE STORM including details on many of its extensive accessibility options.

  • The Accessibility in Last of Us Part II: A 3 Year Journey: GaConf 2020 talk detailing the accessibility story for the Last of Us Part II. It details how several of the accessibility features were implemented including text-to-speech, audio cues, high contrast mode, and more.

  • Font Sizing Out Of This World: GaConf 2020 talk discussing how developers retrofitted text size customization into Outer Worlds. The talk demonstrates how developers can use tools within the Unreal game engine to create this feature.

  • Adding Controller Remapping to Destiny 2: GaConf 2020 talk discussing the development team’s story in retrofitting controller remapping into Destiny 2. The talk details the feature itself, how the team approached its build, and the challenges in building the feature.

Connecting with players

  • Connecting with Players with Disabilities: GaConf Europe 2021 talk discussing how Candy Crush Friends Saga connected with the gaming and disability community within their game improve the accessibility of the game.

Captions, subtitles, and audio cues

  • Deaf Accessibility: The Power of Customization: GaConf 2020 talk discussing how settings such as captions, audio, and audio cues can create accessible gaming experience for gamers who are d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing. It also discusses how developers can use preset settings to help not overwhelm players with too many accessibility settings.

  • Subtitles in XR: A Practical Framework: GaConf 2020 talk on how developers can implement subtitles into XR games using Guided Level Organic Safe Subtitles (GLOSS). It includes fundamentals of the system and best practices such as timing and positioning of subtitles.

Cognitive accessibility

  • Speech Services Synthetic Voice for Game Centric Usage: Game Stack Live 2021 talk introducing developers to Azure Speech services to improve accessibility in games. The talk explores game chat for accessibility, creating dynamic content, and game localization while also showing several customer use cases.

Note

This will be updated during Game Stack Live 2022, so look forward to an updated link above.

Difficulty vs accessibility

  • Difficulty Vs Accessibility: Short GaConf 2021 talk defining difficulty and accessibility and discusses how they relate.

  • Putting the Assist Mode in Control: GaConf Europe 2021 talk by a developer of Control detailing how the development team gathered feedback from the community and addressed the uneven difficulty experience in the game. It was addressed by adding an Assist Mode complete with a set of customizable settings so gamers can customize for their gaming needs.

Horror

Infinite play time

  • Accessible Game Design – Infinite Play & Infinite Time: GaConf Europe 2021 talk from a father of two gamers with disabilities discussing how infinite play and infinite time in games benefits gamers with disabilities and how they create powerful gaming experiences for them. The problem is, there are not a lot of games with these types of features and this talk serves as a call to developers to change this.

Inclusive design / playstyles

  • Prioritizing Accessible Player Experiences: Game Developers Conference 2022 talk from Christopher Power of AbleGamers Canada about how to prioritize accessibility options in your game. Presenting data from over 150 players, the talk gives examples of the most important options that are pre-requisite to many players joining your game community.

  • Pausing and Peering Into the Distance: GAConf 2021 talk on how inclusive design can push accessibility beyond just customizing the gaming experience for gamers with disabilities. It also discusses new ways to define and think about accessibility from a development point of view.

  • Making The Big Con Accessible: GaConf 2021 talk on how developers made The Big Con accessible to a wide array of gamers with different disabilities. The talk shows examples of many of the inclusive and accessible design choices and discusses how they are not only accessible but also supportive of different playstyles and needs.

Input accessibility

  • Game Accessibility For Eye Gaze Users: GaConf Europe 2021 talk by a gamer with disabilities who uses eye gaze to communicate and play games. The talk details how eye gaze works in games and what makes a game accessible or inaccessible when using eye gaze.

Representation

Visual accessibility

Testing and tools

The tests below can be used by developers themselves or requested to evaluate the accessibility of various aspects of a game.

Testing services (paid)

  • Microsoft Gaming Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS): An optional program through which game developers and publishers of Xbox and PC titles can submit their products for secure, confidential accessibility testing conducted by accessibility subject matter experts and gamers with disabilities.

  • Harding Test: Online testing service that analyzes submitted video clips for flashing and patterns which can cause seizures in players with epilepsy.

Testing tools (free)

  • Color Oracle: Free colorblindness simulator for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Applies a full screen color filter to the game content being designed so game developers can examine how colorblind accessible their game content is.

  • Accessibility Insights for Windows: Free app with tools allowing developers to test color contrast.

Developer tools

Below are a wealth of tools developers can use to build accessibility into their games. The tools are divided into several categories including disability category and what development environment they work in.

General

  • XAccessibility: These accessibility APIs enable developers to design, set, and modify game accessibility features and information in their game. For example, developers can configure closed caption properties, the high contrast mode, and the text edge style. Developers can also modify the text that displays on the speech-to-text window, and the position of the speech-to-text window.

Tools – Visual accessibility

  • Spatial Sound for App Developers for Windows, Xbox, and Hololens 2: Documentation on how to implement Microsoft’s platform-level solution for spatial sound support on Xbox, Windows and HoloLens 2, enabling both surround and elevation audio cues. The spatial sound APIs within allow developers to create audio objects that emit audio from positions in 3D space.

  • Dolby Games and Dolby Atmos: Dolby site with great conceptual documentation on spatial sound. Included are links to Dolby Atmos resources for Wwise, FMOD, Xbox, PC, and Mobile.

  • Project Acoustics: Documentation and tools for a wave acoustics engine that simulates acoustics as sound travels through 3D environments. Great for sighted developers designing audio accessibility in their games as they can use this technology to see how the sound in their game travels and interacts with in game objects.

Tools – Cognitive accessibility

Unity tools

  • Accessibility Self Assessment Tool: (Free) Simple tools that adds a new window into Unity that allows developers to self-assess how accessible your game is.

  • ReadSpeaker: Plugin with APIs for either Unreal or Unity that can add text-to-speech capabilities to a game. Resource offers free trial and plug-in installation videos.

  • VR Tunnelling Pro: (Free) VR comfort solution for Unity 5.6+. It can be dropped in to almost any project for plug-and-play comfort options, based on grid and periphery shrinking while moving & turning.

Unity tools – Visual accessibility

  • UI Accessibility Plugin (UAP): (Free) Plug in for Unity that helps developers make their games more accessible for players who are blind or have low vision. Also includes a tutorial video, documentation, and support forum.

  • SeeingVR Toolkit: A set of 14 tools for Unity that enhance a VR application for people with low vision by providing visual and audio augmentations

  • Accessibility: Text Resizing: (Free) A one-click four step lightweight solution to add in text resizing. this key accessibility feature.

  • Responsive Spatial Audio for Immersive Gaming: (Free) Unity plug-in to help developers build accessibility for gamers without sight into 3D game environments.

Unity tools – Audio accessibility

  • Simple SRT: Simple parser to display subtitles stored in standard SRT timecoded format.

  • Q! Subtitles: (Free) Simple yet powerful subtitle system for Unity projects.

Unity tools – Cognitive accessibility

  • Dyslectek: (Paid) Quick and easy text-to-speech for dyslexic players.

Unity tools – Input accessibility

  • Rewired Remapping Plugin for Unity: (Paid) This robust plugin makes it easy for developers to add remapping and multiplayer to their game. It is advertised as the only input system for Unity with native support for a multitude of platforms and its advanced features.

  • cInput Remapping Plugin for Unity: (Paid) API that is a custom input manager which effectively replicates, improves, and therefore replaces Unity's built-in input manager.

  • inControl Remapping Plugin for Unity: (Paid) API that makes it easy for developers to add controller support to a game.

  • Sinput: (Donation) Input wrapper for Unity made primarily for keyboard, mouse, & gamepad input, with a focus on making it easy for developers to make more accessible games and add multiplayer support.

  • Click to Bind: (Free) Lightweight solution for remapping in Unity.

Unreal tools

Unreal tools – Colorblind accessibility

  • Colorblind Widget: Helps developers apply colorblind correction settings to the game window.

Unreal tools – Visual accessibility

Unreal tools – Audio accessibility

  • How to Enable Subtitles: Guide on how to enable subtitles into the game.

  • Yellow Subs Machine: (Paid) Customizable subtitles solution for Unreal Engine 4. Covers as many legal & best-practice recommendations as possible, and player-requested features such as toggleable speaker color, displaying the speaker’s tone of voice, and more.

Unreal tools – Cognitive accessibility

  • ReadSpeaker: Plugin with APIs for either Unreal or Unity that can add text-to-speech capabilities to a game. Resource offers free trial and plug-in installation videos.

Unreal tools – Input accessibility