To further their mission of Xbox Accessibility, Microsoft released Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, "a set of best practices that have been developed in partnership with industry experts and members of the gaming and disability community."
Twenty-three guidelines are included, and for each guideline Microsoft provides an Overview, Implementation Guidelines, Applicable personas, and Resources or Tools.
For example, for Guideline 102: Contrast:
- The Overview says, "The intent is to provide enough contrast between text and/or images and their background so that it can be read by people with color vision deficiencies or low vision."
- The Implementation Guidelines include specific instructions for meeting minimum color contrast ratios.
- The Applicable personas section identifies this guideline as benefiting users with little or no color perception, users with low vision a limited / no hearing, users with limited cognitive skills, and other users.
- Resources or Tools includes links to helpful articles and tools, like an article explaining high contrast.
Full list of Xbox Accessibility Guidelines
- 101: Text display
- 102: Contrast
- 103: Visual cues
- 104: Subtitles and captions
- 105: Audio customization
- 106: Screen narration
- 107: Input
- 108: Game difficulty options
- 109: Object clarity
- 110: Haptic feedback
- 111: Audio description
- 112: UI navigation
- 113: UI focus handling
- 114: UI context
- 115: Error messages and destructive actions
- 116: Time limits
- 117: Visual distractions
- 118: Photosensitivity
- 119: STT / TTS chat
- 120: Communication experiences
- 121: Accessible feature documentation
- 122: Accessible customer support
- 123: Advanced best practices
Part of a larger movement toward gaming accessibility
The Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, which Microsoft says, "are intended for designers to generate ideas, for developers as guardrails when developing their game and as a checklist for validating the accessibility of their title," are released at a time when the future of gaming looks to include a focus on accessibility.
Earlier this year, Microsoft released a series of Eyes First games, which use eye-tracking technology to play. Around the same time, IKEA and partners announced a new line of gaming accessories that use 3D-printing to making gaming more accessible.
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