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Archive for the ‘disabilities’ Category

Since this past weekend was my birthday (I got several games, including one I’m ashamed to have taken so long to get to), this week’s post is another trilogy of disability-related gaming news.

A woman with long dark hair stands in front of a factory wearing a white, backless, sleeveless dress. She is facing right, looking off into the distance.

A woman with long dark hair wearing a white, backless, sleeveless dress. She is facing right, looking off into the distance.

Heather Kuzmich, a finalist on cycle nine of America’s Next Top Model who won nine CoverGirl of the Week awards and has a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome, is studying video game-art design at the Illinois Institute of Art. In an interview with founder of Voodoo PC Rahul Snood, she said:

To be honest, I always wanted to do something that included art and creating stuff with my hands. At first I wanted to get into costume design, but that soon changed to game design, especially since I frigging love games and love doing weird designs for characters.

The news, review and community site for gamers with disabilities AbleGamers.com announced on January 30 that Mythic Entertainment’s MMORPG was the most accessible mainstream game released last year. Right from its September 18, 2008 release date, Warhammer Online

include[d] options for the physically disabled such as mapping nearly all actions to the keyboard, or playing the entire game just by using a mouse or special controllers. There is also text for all key events to aid the hearing impaired and the game has also been made accessible to the colorblind.

Despite the features available upon launch, members of the disabled community still had one concern: Warhammer did not work with the On-Screen Keyboard. This is a tool gamers with physical limitations use to type data on screen with a mouse. It is one of the few MMOs that missed this feature.

According to Mythic, a new patch will be released within the next two weeks taking care of the On-Screen Keyboard.

In “Subtitles: Increasing Game Accessibility, Comprehension” over at Gamasutra, Gareth Griffiths provides 16 guidelines to help make video game captions usable by everyone from Deaf and hard of hearing gamers to HDTV owners. One of my favorite recommendations is to make the button that controls the subtitles different from the “action” button, so that players who are reading through conversations quickly don’t accidentally start those conversations over or choose a response they don’t mean to.

(Crossposted at GameCritics.com)

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The NEC Foundation of America has awarded a $32,000 grant to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) “to support the dissemination and use of therapeutic video games to serve children with severe sensory and motor disabilities,” according to NJIT’s press release.

The website for NJIT’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) says that:

The video game platform contains games with programmable graphics objects. Each game piece behaves in a preprogrammed fashion, following specified rules. These rules may alter movement pattern, changing shape, color or size and even disappearing altogether. Each game piece is capable of assessing its environment and calculating its distance from the nearest object in a specified direction.

The games will use a webcam to analyze player input, and also that this input will be judged on color rather than body movement:

A color detection algorithm for red green and blue markers has been developed to act as the user’s input. A colored marker can be anything the child can grasp, wear or attach to themselves like colored tape or a Velcro band.

Judging responses on color rather than body movement will make it easier for people with non-standard ways of moving to play.

According to director of the RERC Richard Foulds, PhD. “The game will improve neuro-plasticity through intensive and repetitive training.” More than 50 partners will receive and test the software.

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Blanka and Zangrief on a showy, Las Vegas-like stage. Blanka is crouched down, while Zangrief is standing upright.

I see a lot of things slowly. I sometimes have to consciously work out what things are, and I miss many things in my environment simply because I don’t have enough time to notice them: people on bicycles, for instance, or something I’m looking for on a shelf, or vacuum hoses. (“What’s that thing–a snake? No, it’s too big to be in anything but the rain forest. And it’s not moving”). While needing time to process what I’m looking at is more of a problem in real space than when looking at a screen, I’ve found a tool that helps me learn Street Fighter II skills by slowing the game down to something that’s more my speed.

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Blanka and Zangrief on a showy, Las Vegas-like stage. Blanka is crouched down, while Zangrief is standing upright.

I see a lot of things slowly. I sometimes have to consciously work out what things are, and I miss many things in my environment simply because I don’t have enough time to notice them: people on bicycles, for instance, or something I’m looking for on a shelf, or vacuum hoses. (“What’s that thing–a snake? No, it’s too big to be in anything but the rain forest. And it’s not moving”). While needing time to process what I’m looking at is more of a problem in real space than when looking at a screen, I’ve found a tool that helps me learn Street Fighter II skills by slowing the game down to something that’s more my speed.

(more…)

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According to Ballastexistenz, there will be a protest of Minna’s lack of care on Friday at the MPP’s office and CCAC:

We Are Protesting:

FRIDAY JANUARY 23rd from 8AM until NOON in front of MPP Rick Bartolucci’s office located at 93 Ceder st, corner of Ceder and
Lisker, the Canada-Broker Building.
Then at NOON we are Marching to the Community Care Access Centrewhich is located in the Rainbow Centre 40 Elm St, Suite 41-C the
north east corner of the mall at the corner of ST Anne Rd and Notre Dame Ave.

For Further and Updated Information:

Facebook Group: Minna’s Hunger Strike–Call to Action for ALS patient denied care

The Sudbury Star Article

Youtube: Sudbury CCAC Exposed

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Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen is dying. Living in Ontario with ALS and Asperger Syndrome, Minna is on a hunger strike in protest of being denied care by the North East Community Care Access Centre. An article in the Sudbury Star says:

Mettinen-Kekalainen told The Sudbury Star last week she threatened to report the nurses to the Ontario College of Nurses because they were not giving her the care her doctor ordered.

She and friend Jason Bushie say the nursing agency and the Community Care Access Centre have deemed that harassing behaviour.

.

Amanda at Ballastexistenz (where I first learned about Minna) writes:

Someone needs to be out there picketing and otherwise publicly embarrassing the agency itself and getting reporters involved in that — putting out newspaper articles that don’t call Minna’s credibility into question or confuse the issues. Someone else needs to be going to the proper authorities on this and seeing if they can get any of them to do anything. I can’t do that even locally right now, let alone in Ontario, so someone, somehow, needs to take the lead in this who actually can.

Don’t take the easy way out here. Don’t find excuses not to do something if you’re capable of doing it, or to do a half-assed job if you’re capable of a… whole-assed(?) one. Don’t let Minna die. And if she does die, don’t let up on the agencies that ultimately caused it by neglecting her when she needed them the most, find some way of holding them accountable.

Some contact info:

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci
Constituency Office email:

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Time lapse sculptural image of Mat Frasier kickboxing (Copywright Simon McKeown).

©Simon McKeown

On January 24, the Wolverhampton Art Gallery will exhibit a “moving digital sculpture” that will examine how disabled people move. The exhibit, created by disabled digital artist Simon McKeown, is called Motion Disabled and uses state-of-the-art digital motion-capture technology to animate five disabled people doing things like walking, using the phone, kickboxing, and chopping vegetables. The actors include web developer Steve Graham, mayor Frank Letch and Mat Fraser, an activist, actor, writer, musician and comedian. (He wrote, composed and starred in Thalidomide!! A Musical and co-hosts the BBC Ouch! Podcast).

While not about gaming per se—I don’t know if this project’s artist is the same Simon McKeown who worked for Reflections Interactive on Stuntman and the Driver series or not—Motion Disabled uses digital animation to pose some critical questions, as the artist points out: “[D]o we value difference? How do disabled people’s bodies fit into current versions of normality? And, is physical disability about to become Virtual?” In an interview with Dr. Paul Darke for the Outside Centre’s radio show, he said:

[T]he disabled people I grew up with—the disabled children that I grew up working with—were becoming a rarity, in effect. That the effects of screening at childbirth and the medical intervention if you like…in the future…you won’t be able to see how a disabled person walks because they won’t be in existence.

(Crossposted at GameCritics.com)

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 Pity my poor kids!

Pity my poor kids!

h/t: Laura Hershey, Andrea Shettle at Reunify Gally, Cara at The Curvature, Bev at Asperger Square 8.

On February 22, 2009, Jerry Lewis will be getting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. You know, for all his great humanitarian work oppressing on behalf of people with muscular dystrophy for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

WTF?

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It’s a new year, and the ADA Amendments Act is now in effect. These Amendments are a response to the Supreme Court’s erosion of protections and rights in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 over the years (see Sutton et. al vs. United Air Lines, Inc, Murphy vs. United Parcel Service, Inc.. The Supreme Court argued that, if a person’s condition is controlled with “mitigating measures”—medication for high blood pressure, for instance—the person does not have a disability…even if that person is fired or otherwise discriminated against because of their condition).

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In 2009 I will

throw up on the screen, ignore the voice that starts editing before I’ve written anything down. Make my mental space free to explore and play

drink more tea

listen and learn about the world I live in

study

read

call friends just to say hi, reach out to those whose words reach me, even if all I can say is “thanks”

get called on my privilege

try new things that make me nervous

engage people who say things I disagree with

shut up

speak when I can, even when I don’t have the words

when I can’t speak, stand in solidarity.

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