News camera films a youth with virtual reality goggles on

Students work with CNIB to make their virtual reality video game project accessible for youth with sight loss 

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While working on their virtual reality gaming project, Saskatchewan Polytechnic students, James Mercer and Justin Dery gained some valuable insight on how to make the game accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted. This is valuable information that the Business Information Systems Program students will carry forward in their future careers.

“We learned the importance of adding game elements that stimulate senses other than vision.  The player should receive not only visual feedback, but also audible and haptic feedback when interacting with the game.  Conveying essential information to multiple senses is a must if you want to make your game accessible,” said Mercer. 

Teresa Aho, Child and Family Services Counsellor for Vision Loss Rehabilitation Saskatchewan in Regina agrees. “These guys really cared about getting it right and really took initiative to do so. It’s not about making the whole game accessible or creating separate games. All game designers need to do is provide options in the menu where things like the audio description can be turned on.”

Dery, one of the developers on the project recognizes the importance of the game they created for their Systems Project Class. “It's my belief that everyone should have a chance to enjoy video games. This project was an amazing opportunity for us to learn how to make a virtual reality game accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted,” said Dery. 

Understanding how to make their project accessible only took a short conversation with Aho and running some of the elements they designed past her in emails.  The students decided to create a virtual reality climbing game targeted for youth ages 12-18. This is the third year in a row SaskPolytechnic students in Moose Jaw have worked with CNIB on an accessible gaming project. 

The students demonstrated their game at CNIB's Family Fun day yesterday. 

"Because SaskPolytechnic recognizes the importance of teaching their students about accessibility, in the future there will be more game developers that design games with accessibility features and children with sight loss will have more opportunities to become involved in technology at an earlier age. Embracing the accessible technology that exists will lead to more independence and success later," said Aho.

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About CNIB
The CNIB Foundation Saskatchewan is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower Saskatchewan residents impacted by blindness to live their dreams while tearing down barriers to inclusion. Our work as a blind foundation is powered by a network of volunteers, donors and partners in communities across Saskatchewan. To learn more or get involved, visit cnib.ca/Saskatchewan.


For more information, contact: 
Jackie Lay, Communications Specialist, CNIB Foundation Saskatchewan
Cell: (306) 540-3086 or jackie.lay@cnib.ca 

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