Yet again my lack of experience and knowledge has astounded me! Of all the things I’ve learned about Design, I only very recently came across the concept of Inclusive Design. Inclusive Design is basically a way of approaching design so that the end product can be accessed by different groups. For example League of Legends has a colorblind mode so that colorblind players don’t have trouble distinguishing between the enemy and themselves. This adds to the game play for colorblind players as playing such a hectic game with the added confusion of not being able to visually track yourself is not fun at all.
Left – Regular Mode, Right – Colorblind Mode (Red Green Mode)
Although an important part of Inclusive Design is the representation of genders, races, religions, orientations and cultures, what really interests me is the ways its used to give people with certain disabilities a way to experience something in the way other people do. Thinking about this has opened a flood-gate of ideas and problems for me to solve. As an aspiring game audio developer I’m suddenly faced with a sad realization and that is that, deaf people will not be able to enjoy the sonic characteristics of music or sound effects that I make. Specifically speaking a deaf person would perceive a horror game completely differently to a normal person, arguably they wouldn’t be able to fully experience the fear, which is the whole point!
Would it be as suspenseful and terrifying if you didn’t hear her footsteps get closer?
I communicated with a deaf person named Michael Shway and their interpreter, Denise Green, about this topic to try and gain some further insight. What I was told, although not with any scientific measurement is that, at the cinema Michael noticed he could perceive low rumblings. I did some further research and this article by Geoff Leventhall states that deaf people can definitely perceive loud low frequencies (around 100Hz at 90+dB for all those Audio Engineers out there), like the ones you would feel in your chest. This could be something I experiment with, trying to create soundscapes for deaf people.
Drum Beat Blog gives a few examples of ways you can make games more accessible for disabled gamers. He mentions using speech recognition as a means of menu navigation for blind people or careful use of controller vibrations to give deaf people cues. These methods could be used to make games more accessible for people with disabilities, or, some of the concepts could be adapted to make games specifically for people with disabilities, like a video game for blind people where all the game mechanics are audio based and there are no visuals.
I’m inexpressibly glad that the concept of Inclusive Design has been introduced to me and I’m actually really excited to start thinking about Inclusive Design the next time I’m working on a project. Any way I can change something or add something to make it more accessible for other groups will be fully considered in the future!