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Microsoft updates Xbox Accessibility Guidelines to help devs make games for everyone

Microsoft updates Xbox Accessibility Guidelines to help devs make games for everyone

February 17, 2021 | By Chris Kerr

Microsoft has updated its Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) based on feedback from its Gaming & Disability Community and game developers. 

The guidelines were originally launched in 2019 with the aim of providing devs with a set of best practices to support the industry in driving accessibility forwards. 

They were intended to be used by designers to help generate ideas while also serving as a guiding checklist for devs looking to validate the accessibility of a project. 

Now, Microsoft has refined the guidelines based on a wide-range of feedback, improving the language used and eliminating jargon to ensure the guidelines are clear and easily understood, implementing better scoping questions to help devs identify which XAGs they should prioritize, and providing additional background and foundational information to make certain XAGs easier to comprehend.

The company has also created implementation guideline examples in the form of images and videos to provide developers with real-world demonstrations of specific XAGs in action, and has added a succinct "goal" statement for each XAG to help readers more easily find relevant guidelines. 

Microsoft has also built an "industry-first, platform provided" game accessibility testing program that can be used to validate games using the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines. 

The project was spearheaded by principle software engineering lead in Game Reliability Engineering, Mike Gamble, and gives developers the option of sending their Xbox or PC project into Microsoft to be analyzed and validated against the XAGs. 

Any issues that are flagged will be annotated with reproduction steps, screenshots, and other information to help dev teams understand what aspects of their project may be prove challenging to disabled players. 

You can find out more about Microsoft's new-look Xbox Accessibility Guidelines by clicking here.

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