CNIB works with students to create Accessible Virtual Reality Game

7/10/2017

(Regina, SK) Saskatchewan Polytechnic students Amanda Braun and Josh Couse have learned just how easy it is to make a video game accessible for youth who are blind and partially sighted.

“Making content accessible should be a priority. There are many simple ways to enhance accessibility like contrasting colours, audio descriptions and large-font text. Game designers should always be pushing themselves to design better games with a wider reach,” said Braun, 29 years old. 

Teresa Aho, CNIB’s Child and Family services Counsellor in Regina agrees and goes one step further. 

“It’s not about making the whole game accessible or creating separate games. All game designers need to do is provide options in the menu where things like the audio description can be turned on.”

Couse recognizes the importance of the game they created for their Systems Project Class. 

“The computer games market is a huge industry and there are lots of barriers to break in terms of accessibility. I don’t see a lot of accessibility options in games and there is a lot of technology to make it more accessible. It just needs to be implemented,” said the 28-year-old student. 

Understanding how to make their game accessible only took a 20-minute conversation with Aho.  The two students researched how people played video games and decided to create a virtual reality shooting game with a Halloween theme where the players could shoot ghosts, witches and skeletons. The game is targeted for youth ages 12-18.

Their project was inspired by a fellow student who has sight loss. As they watched other students worked with him to make Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, read text out loud so he could utilize the program. 

When the students demonstrated their game at a CNIB event this past spring their creation inspired one of the youth who played the game.

“One of my favourite moments at the CNIB Regina Family Fun Day was when a kid, after playing the game, asked how she could get into coding. Her interest in the BIS program and making games herself was amazing. I would love to see technology progress and be used in a way that lets people from multiple backgrounds create their own games and content,” said Braun.

Braun and Couse recently had their project marked and received 92 per cent. They plan to make the game available for free on the Internet. 

About CNIB

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.

The primary objective of CNIB is to create an inclusive, accessible, barrier-free society that provides the tools Canadians with vision loss require to live safe, fulfilling and independent lives. For more information, visit cnib.ca.

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For further information and interviews, please contact:

Jackie Lay, Specialist, Communications, CNIB Manitoba, Phone: (306) 540-3086 or email: jackie.lay@cnib.ca 

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