Recommended Reading for January 10th
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Dragon Age: Origins offers some of the most astounding accessibility options seen in any game this year. With only one accessibility complaint, Bioware far exceeded expectations for an accessible title. However, the relatively small font size was immediately addressed by Bioware, bringing the number of accessibility problems to zero.
Alex at Border House: Interview with Mark Barlet of AbleGamers.com
What are some important things to look for when determining the accessibility of a game?
It is very hard to say “THIS” is what we are looking for. Depending on your disability game accessibility can mean anything. So what we look for are options. I am not deaf and do not need subtitles when I play, but is there an option for subtitles? Steve [Spohn, Associate Editor of AbleGamers] does 99% of his interaction with his PC by use of the mouse, so a game must be playable using just a mouse. That said, others can not use a mouse at all, so we look to see if a game can be played by using the keyboard.
Tiffany at Disaboom: BBC to debut groundbreaking wheelchair dancing reality show
The celebs will be paired up with wheelchair dancers, and most of the wheelchair-users will be new to dancing too. After training, they’ll compete a variety of classic ballroom dances, from the Paso Doble to the Cha-Cha-Cha, all performed within the parameters of Wheelchair Dance Sport, a official sport requiring at least one dancer to use a wheelchair. The winning couple will go on to represent the UK at the Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships in Israel this Fall.
Wow. This actually sounds official. Like it’s a real competition or something, not some pity-party looking for a sympathy vote. LOVE it.
Meris Stansbury at eSchoolNews: Five key trends in assistive technology
“NCTI hears this plea from … parents and caregivers as well. Too often, the sophistication of the features or interface of new devices precludes easy use by direct consumers or their parents, teachers, and friends. With more students being served in general-education classrooms of up to 30 students, devices need to offer as little complexity and facilitate as much independence for the user as possible,” the brief says.
“It’s not just about adding new features to the stuff we already have,” explained Tracy Gray, director of NCTI. “We must ask the question: What do we need to solve, and how can we do that?”
The WeCU system would use humans to do some of the observing but would rely mostly on hidden cameras or sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate. Far more sensitive devices under development that can take such measurements from a distance would be incorporated later. […]
One system being studied by Homeland Security is called the Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, and works like a souped-up polygraph.
It would subject people pulled aside for additional screening to a battery of tests, including scans of facial movements and pupil dilation, for signs of deception. Small platforms similar to the balancing boards used in the Nintendo Wii would help detect fidgeting.
New York Times: The Americanization of Mental Illness
Modern-day mental-health practitioners often look back at previous generations of psychiatrists and psychologists with a thinly veiled pity, wondering how they could have been so swept away by the cultural currents of their time. The confident pronouncements of Victorian-era doctors regarding the epidemic of hysterical women are now dismissed as cultural artifacts. Similarly, illnesses found only in other cultures are often treated like carnival sideshows. Koro, amok and the like can be found far back in the American diagnostic manual (DSM-IV, Pages 845-849) under the heading “culture-bound syndromes.” Given the attention they get, they might as well be labeled “Psychiatric Exotica: Two Bits a Gander.”