In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 20, 2021, Xbox shared some of the ways they are working to quell digital accessibility issues many gamers face across Xbox platforms. On the Xbox Wire blog, the Xbox Accessibility Director Anita Mortaloni outlined how the team at Xbox aims to promote accessibility and make the Xbox community more welcoming for gamers with disabilities.
One of the features mentioned in today’s blog post is the introduction of party chat speech transcription and synthesis, which involves speech-to-text and text-to-speech support. This will allow speech spoken in Xbox party chat to be transcribed into text that will come up as an overlay on the display. Conversely, text-to-speech will enable typed text in party chat to be read by a synthetic voice. This is just one way that Xbox is working to make a more accessible communication system for their platform.
The post also discusses how some of Microsoft’s first-party titles are making strides of their own toward better accessibility. For instance, three new accessibility features were revealed for Minecraft that include a new Achievements Screen, more granular audio customization, and updated ore patterns.
The Xbox Gaming Accessibility team has put together the Gaming and Disability Player Experience Guide as well. The guide offers an overview of the various barriers those with disabilities experience when gaming. The guide was created to be used in tandem with the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, which were recently updated to reflect feedback from the Gaming and Disability communities on Xbox.
Earlier today, the Xbox Twitch channel held a livestream featuring Xbox Accessibility Program Manager and Gaming & Disability Community Lead Tara Voelker alongside blind gamer and streamer Steve Saylor as they talked about accessibility in gaming. Those who wish to re-watch the livestream can do so by viewing the VOD on the Xbox Twitch channel.