2015 is a huge year for disabled gamers. Accessibility features, once a dream when thinking about consoles, are now making prominent places in the market with accessibility solutions built into the firmware. Sony and Microsoft continue to jump ahead of the law when providing accessibility features for their consoles. Nintendo, as of yet, appears to be quiet on the accessibility front and has released no details about future plans. Just because Nintendo is currently quiet, however, that doesn’t mean accessibility isn’t progressing. In fact, accessibility features in consoles continue to evolve and expand.
Microsoft, which will be releasing Narrator and other accessibility features later this year, are going a step further and providing global button mapping support to their Xbox One console. Initially only for the Xbox Elite controller, it looks like global button mapping will be making it’s debut soon as well. Mike Ybarra, Partner Director of Program Management of the Xbox Platform has revealed on Twitter that global button mapping will come to all controllers “soon” and not just the elite controllers on Xbox One. He stated this in a tweet. The addition will, most likely, come with the other accessibility features in the public update of the “New Xbox One Experience.”
— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) October 4, 2015
Techraptor has reached out to Ybarra on Twitter and via LinkedIn and has not heard a reply at the time of this writing, but a PR representative told Techraptor via Email that demos and videos of accessibility features would come out within two weeks. They could not comment on the accessibility features, or even demonstrate any of them, because they are so new and still in the beginning stages of development and refinement. The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which currently has a waiver for game software, helps to make this a reality even though the waiver continues to be extended. It is pertinent to note, however, that the waiver can’t be extended forever and this means more accessibility advancements are on the horizon, even if certain companies are reluctant to start thinking about adding accessibility features before it becomes law.
For now, Microsoft and Sony are leading the charge in console accessibility. What will follow? Time will tell.