Microsoft revealed a brand new line of adaptive accessories at its annual Ability Summit, along with its announcement of the new Inclusive Tech Lab.
Microsoft has unveiled a range of all-new accessibility peripherals for PC, each of which is meticulously designed for users with disabilities. The demand for substantial accessibility options in gaming and tech has only grown over time. It is now a much bigger consideration for many companies and developers.
Among major players in the gaming and tech fields, Microsoft has been at the forefront of studying, creating, and promoting accessibility in the past few years. In 2018, the company made a commitment to players with disabilities with the launch of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which was designed especially for players with limited mobility. Since then, Microsoft has been expanding its accessibility research and development with other initiatives, hardware updates, and even an accessibility evaluation system for its game developers.
During Microsoft’s 12th annual Ability Summit this week, the company revealed a brand new line of adaptive accessories for disabled users. Built around three main components, the peripherals are designed to replace or augment a traditional mouse and keyboard. The Microsoft Adaptive Mouse can be extensively customized with the company’s adaptive mouse tail and thumb support, or even with 3D-printed tails for further personalization. The Microsoft Adaptive Hub can link with up to four of the new Adaptive Buttons, which can be topped with D-pads, joysticks, dual switches, and more via 3D printing. The Adaptive Hub itself also includes three separate profiles for different accessibility devices and works with standard 3.5mm assistive tech switches.
Elsewhere in the Summit, Microsoft announced its new Inclusive Tech Lab and detailed its purpose. As an expansion of the company’s previous Xbox accessibility lab established in 2017, the facility will be a larger space that is better equipped to accommodate more visitors and get them involved in the product-making process. Described as highly modular, the Lab is built to adapt to different needs over time and features discussion and design sessions on products and services. Importantly, Microsoft states that the Lab is meant to be an embassy for people with disabilities, rather than a space about them.
Accessibility is now a hot-button issue in both gaming and tech, and getting companies to recognize and adapt to users with disabilities continues to be an uphill battle for many. It has to be said that Microsoft is responsible for many notable steps forward in the field of accessibility and that it is committed to making these steps before most other big tech corporations. Encouragingly, the company seems to be scaling up its accessibility department, and that decision could go a long way towards a more inclusive gaming community.
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