Look at how you can be playing games with your Eyes
For years my daughter has had to watch her brothers play on countless PlayStation games, but now she can join in. It’s fantastic that at last someone is thinking about people who can’t use these games because of a disability.
— Pip, mother of Minty, who has cerebral palsy
Minty is just one of the hundreds of lives that we’ve touched in our short history. We use technology to enhance the quality of life of people with all kinds of needs, including stroke and road traffic accident patients, individuals with life-limiting conditions and injured soldiers returning from overseas.
That was the hope of all Xbox Players members when heading towards the Expo.
But when they got there amongst all of the Glitz and Glamour, they came across the Special Effect Stand.
The Stand was very much an attraction to many thousands of gamers throughout the Eurogamer Expo, but it touched our hearts and after some more research we wanted to let you know more about what they do.
The team at Special effect got Gamers to try to see Gaming from a special needs point of view.
To Think of Buying a games console and having to pay upto £6000 in addition to this, just be able to interact with that console, how would anyone who has special needs be able to afford to game.
In addition to allowing Gamers to use the Unique controllers set up to demonstrate what is required by gamers who cannot easily hold a standard controller. The special Effects team of volunteers were there to enlighten gamers to the amount of money required to obtain these special controllers.
The work that Special Effects do is truly outstanding work. by just visiting their website you will see the truly amazing ways that these controllers help to let more people enjoy the games the majority of us take for granted.
A Special Needs school in Scotland, already use the Eye technology to help aid their pupils, but the funds have to be raised through various charities and fundraisers.
Special Effects have been nominated for many things and have been awarded numerous ones and very well deserved indeed. Here they are:
Winner: IT4C Best Volunteering Project Innovation
Winner: OCVA Best Use of Social Media and the Web
Winner: WOBA Charity and Community Award
Winner: OBA Social Media Award
Winner: TalkTalk Digital Heroes Award, South-West Region (Dr Mick Donegan)
Guiness World Records
Largest Eye-controlled Video Games Tournament (Eurogamer 2011, 341 participants)
But how could you make a difference?
Well in 2014 Special Effects are involved with a number of Events and we would love you to give as much support to these as you can or if you could give a donation direct thenyou can choose from any of the different methods to get involved with. Just view the Videos included Below and click on the link included.
Here’s Ajay, an IT support analyst with spinal muscular atrophy, explaining what it means to regain the ability to enjoy video games. He hadn’t been able to play since he lost his hand dexterity when was 17 years old, but we introduced him to a chin-controlled joystick and voice control setup that’s got him back in the game.
“Initially I wanted to play every game because I was so excited,” he said. “SpecialEffect have given me back something I lost many years ago.”
In this video Ajay, who uses a head-controlled mouse to control his PC at work, talks about how essential games are for him to maintain a good work/life balance.
When Arlo’s friends came round, they’d end up playing outside with his brother. Not any more. He’s now overcoming his disabilities and practicing to take on his mates – and he’s pretty excited about it!
The video below shows how Arlo’s knocking in the goals on FIFA 13. There’s also some valuable insight from his mother Kerry about what our help means to him:
“Arlo’s very limited in what he can control. He uses mainly one hand, so he wasn’t making the most of his games. But now he can really properly compete and engage with other children in a way that’s otherwise impossible.”
Callum suffered a spinal injury as a result of a BMX accident, which left him paralysed from the shoulders down.
Unable to use his hands, he’d given up the hope of ever being able to play on his Playstation with his friends and family again. But his OT at Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit introduced SpecialEffect to him, and our team were able to make home visits to try out some controller setups which would allow him to play games using his chin.
We’ve finally found an effective solution for Callum that lets him play with his sister and father on his favourite racing games. Accessing games for Callum isn’t just a way to pass the time. It’s a way to interact, socialise and compete with other people.
Charlotte’s father is watching his daughter play a game on a computer. That’s nothing special for any average four-year-old, but Charlotte’s no average girl. She’s special. She’s a bright, lively dynamo with an enormous appetite for life who contracted an aggressive form of meningitis when she was two, resulting in the loss of all four lower limbs.
She’s now busy getting on with her life, but inevitably there are activities that are simply too difficult – vital activities of play and social inclusion that her friends take for granted. Activities like computer games.
Charlotte brought her family and some of her friends to our Games Room to find out how she could level the playing field and start enjoying the benefits of computer-based leisure and learning. She spent the afternoon using the computer to enjoy bowling, colouring activities and jigsaws with her friends, and at the end of the day, the whole family left buzzing with new ideas about accessing fun and creativity together, including the possibilities offered by our cutting-edge eye-gaze systems.
“It’s unbelievable. She loves it! The stuff they do is amazing.They adapt all these controllers to specific disabilities.” – Alex, Charlotte’s father
We’re now working regularly with Charlotte, setting up and loaning her adapted controllers and games so that she can have join in the fun with everyone else.
About Chloe & Ella
If you view computer games purely as a pastime or, at worst, a distraction, you might want to talk to Ella and Chloe, two young friends from Oxfordshire.
Both girls have motor control problems that make it difficult for them to join in physical activities with their friends. Computer gaming is the one activity that can offer them equal and independent inclusion, but they find it too difficult to use standard handheld controllers without assistance.
Daryl’s a hardcore gamer, despite his cerebral palsy. We’ve been working with him both in our GamesRoom and at his home to find a way for him to have independent control of his games on an Xbox 360 console.
When we first saw Daryl he had control of two chin-controlled switches for his computer access. We explored ways that he could use his switches with an Xbox console and also introduced the use of a joystick to let him to enjoy the sorts of games he wanted to play. After trying out various specialist hardware with appropriately games for his abilities, our team has found Daryl a controller setup he’s happy with.
Daryl’s been back to our GamesRoom several times since, and we’re now working on access to his PlayStation.
Driving a train is pretty much every young boy’s dream, but for Henry, even pushing a toy train around a track isn’t possible. He’s five, and his cerebral palsy severely restricts his speech and movement. It means that he’s not able to take part in active play, and up to now he’s just had to watch others have fun.
But recently his parents contacted us. They’d heard about eye-controlled computers and wondered if the technology could benefit their son, so we invited him and his family for a visit to our games room, and spent a wonderful afternoon introducing him to simple eye-gaze activities.
“The look on Henry’s face when he first used the eye-gaze to control something on a screen was indescribable,” said Henry’s father Rob. “For the first time he could play with something completely ‘on his own’. It was a landmark moment for us as a family.”
Soon afterwards we visited Henry at home and set up an eye-controlled computer for him, and before long he was enjoying a range of simple eye-gaze games.
But there’s a big difference between playing onscreen and playing with real toys. Henry loves Thomas the Tank Engine, and anything to do with Thomas grabs and holds his attention. So we bought him a present; a wooden pushalong Thomas train set. But we added a surprise, a motorised engine that could be controlled with infrared signals. Armed with the right combination of software and equipment, we went back to Henry’s house and linked everything up so that he could use his computer to control the train with his eyes.
The video below shows Henry driving a real toy train for the very first time!
It’s just the start of a whole new world of independence for Henry, and with your help we’ll be able to continue supporting him with the technology he needs to have fun both onscreen and offscreen.
When Holly took ownership of a new wheelchair control system, she thought she’d be using it to steer herself sedately around the streets of North Yorkshire. But now she’s careering around banked corners at breakneck speed and burning rubber with handbrake turns. Not, thankfully, at any danger to herself and the public.
Holly, who’s a bubbly ten year-old with cerebral palsy, is racing cars on her PlayStation with her brother, something she’s wanted to do for a very long time. She’s controlling the cars through switches built into her headrest, which are normally used to steer her powered wheelchair. The SpecialEffect team have connected them to a PlayStation controller interface, giving her manoeuvres such as left and right steering, accelerate and brake. She’s borrowing the interface from our Loan Library (we managed to get it to her in time for her birthday!) and her mum is delighted:
“I’m so grateful for your help. Holly’s over the moon to be able to play with her brother – and she’s looking forward to trying FIFA 13 as well!”
If I were her brother, I’d be worried.
Jaime, who’s three, has SMARD (Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress). This means that she’s unable to move her body or breath for herself, but that doesn’t stop her wanting to have fun.
Her parents brought her to our GamesRoom to see if we could find a way for her to to play, which may encourage her interaction and, consequently, her communication at this important stage in her development. During the visit we introduced her to an eye-controlled computer, which she took to immediately.
The team knew that this was the only way Jaime would be able to have independent control over something that could enable her to interact with those around her, so we arranged for the family to borrow a device for use at home. We then made home visits to set up games and communication software, including a way to control a toy train set to play with her sister and parents.
Lloyd is a young war hero who lost both legs and some of the fingers on his right hand while serving in Afghanistan.
One of his passions was playing computer games with his friends, but he found that his injuries had devastated his ability to use a controller.
For wounded servicemen, rehabilitation means far more than just repairing the body. Getting back to a sense of normality and reviving the quality of life is crucial, and we helped Lloyd to get back to doing what he loves. We loaned him a range of one-handed games controllers to try, and after finding one that’s just right, he’s been back in the game and competing with his mates ever since!
Just £250 will enable us to loan several special one-handed controllers to returning servicemen like Lloyd.
Reece is nine years old and has cerebral palsy. He’s crazy about football, but he struggles to use standard games controllers because he finds it hard to control his fine movements.
Tiago, who’s an engaging and sparky five year-old, has cerebral palsy. He finds it difficult to control his limbs, but he was already confidently using an eye-controlled computer to communicate and do his school work before we met him.
He was desperate to extend the use of his eye-gaze computer to play games, so he visited our GamesRoom where our team matched his abilities and interests to appropriate activities. You can see the fun he had in the short video below.
This was just the start of a welcome journey into computer play for Tiago, and after the visit we worked with him at home, creating personalised software to allow him to enjoy games and activities like Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters online.
Here is what Special Effect offer:
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to beat disability and get people gaming. That’s why our assessments focus on every individual’s abilities and preferences.
The aim of the Loan Library is simple — to help everyone with a disability to find a way to play the games they love.
Remarkable events where we stack our van full of adapted gaming equipment and gaming specialists, and drive all over the UK to enable people with disabilities to discover that they can level the gaming playing field.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to control a computer simply by looking at it? With just a flick of an eye you could use the internet, play games, or run your own business.
Our StarGaze+ project provides the loan and support of eye-controlled technology that can help these people when they need it most — immediately following their personal tragedy.
But we’re not just doing it for the sake of fun. By giving disabled people the means to participate, we’re kick-starting rehabilitation, self-esteem and, most importantly, inclusion.
SpecialEffect is the only specialist UK-based charity dedicated to helping ALL disabled people enjoy video games – from injured soldiers to young disabled people who can’t play any other way, whether they are in a hospital, hospice, rehabilitation centre or at home.
Our mission is to enable anyone, whatever their disability, to enjoy video games and leisure technology. But we’re not just doing this for fun. By giving disabled people the means to participate, we’re kick-starting rehabilitation, self-esteem and inclusion.
Our team not only provides games access assessments and loans but they’re also changing the way the whole world plays through collaboration with developers and through demonstration videos on our YouTube channel.
We don’t charge anyone we work with for anything we do and we don’t receive government funding, so we rely solely on voluntary donations through fundraising attempts such as this Crowdfunding campaign to continue to do the work we do.
Their help includes the loan and support of mainstream and adapted access equipment for online and offline games. Some of the specialist equipment, like eye-control technology, is expensive, so the loans enable people to make sure it’s suitable before they commit to a purchase. The charity doesn’t sell any equipment, so their advice is always impartial.
Praised by Prime Minister David Cameron as “providing magic moments all the time“, SpecialEffect been making a profoundly positive impact on the quality of life for children and adults of all ages since 2007.
At any one time the charity is working with and helping up to 250 people on an intensive basis in hospitals, hospices and at home.
They also influence the lives of thousands of people each year with support, advice and hands-on demonstrations at their award-winning games roadshows.
Their doors are open to everyone, including accident victims, service personnel with combat injuries, people with congenital and progressive conditions and stroke patients.
The Stable Block, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxfordshire OX7 3EH
Office: 01608 810055
Charity No 1121004
Registered Company No 6040232