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Microsoft is using the Xbox Adaptive Controller to support U.S. veterans

Microsoft is using the Xbox Adaptive Controller to support U.S. veterans

May 1, 2019 | By Chris Kerr

Microsoft has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide Xbox Adaptive Controllers to 22 initial VA rehab centers across the United States. 

Launched back in 2018, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is a uniquely accessible gamepad designed to make video games more approachable for players with limited mobility. 

The versatile pad allows users to customize their setup by connecting external devices like buttons, switches, and joystick that accommodate their specific needs, and was developer after extensive consolation with accessibility advocates -- including veterans. 

By getting the controller into rehab centers, Microsoft believes it can help injured veterans with the rehabilitation by giving the chance to game again, and noted how the pastime is often used to build camaraderie and forge social connections in the military. 

"We’re looking for platforms for veterans to interact with each other, and the Xbox Adaptive Controller can be that access point to get involved in this world and in the gaming community," commented Dr. Leif Nelson, director of National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events for the VA. 

"Gaming is now everywhere in the world, and while people tend to think of it as isolating, we’re finding that it actually has the opposite effect and can increase interactions with other veterans and folks who are non-veterans. I think this can be a tool in the rehabilitation process to achieve a lot of different goals."

The partnership will also help Microsoft improve the controller, with the company hoping to use feedback and data collected by the VA centers to determine how effective it is in serving veterans, and how the device might be tweaked going forward. 

If you're keen to learn more about the Xbox Adaptive Controller, you can hear how the Microsoft Devices team designed the ingenious device by checking out this GDC 2019 talk.

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