Learning a new videogame can be frustrating. But for kids with disabilities, the experience can be especially hard. If you can’t play what the other kids are playing, it’s like being picked last for the kickball team.
Take Giddeon, whom the AbleGamers Foundation met at one of their “Accessibility Arcades” in Atlantic City, New Jersey. According to the AbleGamers Foundation website, Giddeon didn’t want to play any games. A rare disease had stunted the growth of his arms. Only a few fingers had formed. Holding a game controller was tough.
Already, too many kids with disabilities feel like they’re being left out of all the fun. For Giddeon, the experience of not being able to play the game could have been a minor encounter with low self-esteem, or a major lesson in humiliation.
But after encouragement from the AbleGamers staff, Giddeon used an “accessible controller” called the Adroit with the racing game Forza 3. “Within seconds he was racing past the competition and smiling brightly at his newfound driving skills,” the AbleGamers Foundation website said. “By the end of that day he was coming in first place in every race.”
Thanks to adaptive technology, Giddeon had gone from being unable to play a videogame to becoming a racing champion — and a gamer.
Now the AbleGamers Foundation, long dedicated to bring greater accessibility in the digital entertainment space for people of all ages, has launched the AbleGamers 2012 Children’s Grant Program, a one-time grant that provides gaming equipment for children 15 years or younger.
“We are thrilled to be enabling children with disabilities by providing assistive technology through this grant,” said Mark Barlet, president and founder of the AbleGamers Foundation. “Our supporters are wonderful. Without the amazing and continued support of generous donors, this wouldn’t be possible.”
Applications are now being accepted for kids to receive one piece of assistive technology, courtesy of the AbleGamers Foundation, so that they might can “gain a greater quality of life, and develop a rich social life that gaming can bring,” AbleGamers said.
The grants might fund hardware and accessible controllers from major assistive technology makers, as well as software. Accessibility technology enables play on most major game systems, including Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and personal computers.
Parents and caregivers can apply for the grant here. The deadline is fast approaching — Aug. 31. You can learn more about the foundation on its website. Its Facebook page is loaded with photos of accessibility arcades. You can also donate to AbleGamers.
Kids deserve to feel normal, powerful and able to participate in the culture, which for so many revolves around gaming. Kids with disabilities, AbleGamers said, “just want to have fun despite [the] many serious challenges disability can bring.”