Xbox has revealed two new features that should help drive the industry's emphasis on accessibility forward, and it begins with the Game Accessibility Testing Service.
This new program is touted as the very first of its kind and is intent on ensuring studios release games with all kinds of players in mind. The Game Accessibility Testing Service is a developer tool that runs their games through the gamut to ensure its made with accessibility in mind, or otherwise reveals where a game may come up short in such a regard.
Here's how it works:
A developer will send in their Xbox or PC title, and the team will assess whether it complies with the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines. Where the team finds concerns, they will document them with reproduction steps, screenshots, and other information to help the developer understand what aspect of gameplay may be challenging for some people with disabilities. Perhaps the most important aspect of the service is the inclusion of gamers with disabilities who not only run test cases against games, but provide their feedback and insights as well.
The aforementioned Xbox Accessibility Guidelines have been revealed as the second prong of this new approach. These guidelines state plainly a list of best practices for developers to follow should they seek to create "inclusive, accessible games." These lengthy guidelines touch on topics such as menu narration and subtitle styling, to UI navigation and game difficulty. The full list is far-reaching and can be perused here.
Today's Xbox Accessibility Guidelines come as a revised edition of an earlier guide unveiled this past January. The Xbox team worked with the gaming and disability community as well as developers to refine and strengthen the guidelines which the team has landed on today. Xbox hopes this will lead to more teams committing resources to making their games more accessible in the months and years ahead.