Why it matters: Given the joy and rewarding experience of playing video games, the idea of making them inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities is one worth encouraging. The most recent example of which comes from Jersey, where a dad spent his weekend tinkering and soldering bits to Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller so his daughter with special needs could enjoy Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Rory Steel got a Nintendo Switch for his daughter at Christmas, who like many other kids (and adults), loves Zelda: Breath of the Wild. However, Ava has a condition called HSP, that limits her motor controls and speech, thereby hindering her ability to explore Zelda’s complex world using the Switch’s Joy-Cons.
The situation led to a weekend project for Steel, who describes himself as “always a bit of a tinkerer.” He set about making a customized control pad for the Nintendo Switch by emulating the Joy-Con’s buttons to Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller, along with other components he bought from eBay for about £110 ($143).
By the end of the first day, Steel had a working prototype that allowed controlling Link (protagonist) with the two joysticks. “Some serious soldering and wire management tomorrow morning for some game testing in the afternoon,” he said on Twitter.
The end-result, along with Ava’s heartwarming reaction, was posted soon after. It also got a nod from Xbox Chief Phil Spencer, who said: “Incredible, What a smile” in a retweet of the video.
Finished! Ava gives my homemade #accessibility controller V1.0 the thumbs up. She can play @Nintendo #BreathoftheWild on her #switch like her friends now. All thanks to @Microsoft 🙌 #adaptiveController #XAC @brycej @ArranDyslexia @shanselman pic.twitter.com/dOhGnUFZa0
— Rory Steel (@JerseyITGuy) January 19, 2020
Apparently, Ava is having so much fun that her younger brother, Corban, would seemingly have to wait a while for his turn, as anyone with siblings can relate. The 5-year-old has the same condition as Ava, who Steel says was “straight in after her” on the controller.
“I’m not sure who enjoyed the project most,” says Steel, adding that he’s been approached by Microsoft and Logitech with offers to help him in creating ” a more improved version two.” He also plans to put out a walkthrough guide of this project to help those in need of an accessible controller for the Switch.