Can disabilities affect participation in and enjoyment of art and video games? The answer is both Yes and No.
Yes – Certain constraints and accessibility issues can still arise while playing games or attending in art events, just as they would in public spaces or online activities, depending on the type of disability you have.
No – Disabilities often require creative thinking to accomplish goals in unique ways, which is a crucial aspect of being an artist.
These two issues we discussed at the event organized by Snowdog to mark f GAAD’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2023.
Is Art accessible?
Are you wondering if art is accessible to everyone? The answer is that it depends on whether you want to create it or attend an artistic event. Unfortunately, accessibility in public places isn’t always easy for everyone, but there are ways to make it more friendly. Additionally, receiving art can vary based on disability, but there are innovative solutions, such as music vibrations for the deaf or audio descriptions for the blind, that help everyone engage with art in their own unique way.
Art event organizers recognize the importance of accessibility and are taking steps to ensure that events are fully accessible. Special events like the Invisible Exhibitions, are highly recommended for everyone, especially the blind, as they give a unique perspective on the art. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to experience art from a different point of view.
How to express yourself in art with various disabilities?
Let’s start by dispelling the myth that there’s no such thing as art with disabilities. The truth is that art can be judged on its own merits – whether it’s considered good or bad – regardless of the background of the artist who created it. With this in mind, the story of the artist and the process behind their work can enhance the overall experience and impact of the art piece.
Journalist and writer Sylwia Błach shared some amazing examples of art and the inspiring stories behind the artists who created them. Get ready to be captivated by the beauty and meaning behind each masterpiece.
Disabled Artists creativity
Did you know that an artist’s disability cannot hinder their art? Creativity is the key, and disabled artists often demonstrate incredible ingenuity in using tools in unique ways to express themselves. It’s truly inspiring to see someone painting with a typewriter or in a wheelchair. Disabilities don’t limit art but rather inspire new ways of creating it.
From Paul Smith who painted Mona Lisa with his typewriter, or Tommy Hollenstein, who uses wheelchairs to run on paint creating characteristic tire tracks marked on his paintings we feel astonished by their creativity.
The vivid colors and artistic vision shows Tommy’s attitude toward life – as he says himself – “Be a creator, not an imitator. We all have it in us.”
Technology supports art
There are many artists with disabilities gaining recognition in the art world e.g. Aj Brockman a digital painter and Jeff Lewis 3D painter using Tilt Brush. In fact, VR is a space where disabled artists are present and successful.
This is an example of how technology helps to express their physical constraints. Another example of how technology can be used to create is Jody Xiong and his Mind Art project enabling disabled people to create art with brain waves.
EyeHarp is a revolutionary musical instrument that enables individuals with disabilities to learn and play music effortlessly through gaze or head movements. They discover the joy of music-making with EyeHarp’s innovative technology and experience the freedom to express their unique musical talents. The application cooperates with all devices. such as a computer mouse, eye tracker etc.
We surely observe also as art plays also the therapist’s role in all dimensions. Revising we can conclude that technology is not the only way but good ideas engaging technology tend to have brilliant effects.
Making games accessible
As in other areas, here too it all starts with building awareness step by step. First, it’s good to realize that disabled people are gamers. There are 3.24 milliards game players worldwide. Including 46 million players in the US. Players are a huge and diverse group, as we could learn from Mateusz Pusty, a game designer.
It’s also good to realize that starting designing with accessibility issues in mind makes the process easier and cost-effective. He also recognized two main reasons why games are not accessible.
Designers are not aware of accessibility issues and this is simply a matter of lack of knowledge. In small design teams, there are no disabled people to remind them about their needs. Most design tutorials do not focus on this. So the best way to overcome this situation is to make people more sensitive in general and build awareness.
Accessibility vs time and money
Lack of time and money. Designers are usually in a rush and think that accessibility will rise production budgets. The solution here is to realize how to make accessibility a positive incentive and PR argument. We quickly realize that dealing with accessibility from the very beginning of the design process makes it affordable and profitable. Not only disabled people can appreciate a wider perspective.
Games accessibility – Good practices
Several interesting cases were also presented, one of which was Mortal Kombat, which can be easily played using only sounds. The Sounds enable gamers with visual impairments to navigate and be aware of the action even better than sight-relaying gamers.
This shows how important it is for games to affect various senses and to be inclusive for gamers with different needs.
Even such a simple feature as free keyboard adjustment for right or left-hand players can make a significant difference for all gamers. A good example of an accessible game is The Last of US 2, which adheres to most accessibility rules and best practices. Some of them we listed below.
Gamers with various disabilities, but also with special needs and preferences will appreciate:
- the possibility to edit the game features e.g. game level, special effects, narrator assistance, and subtitles size accessible on all types of devices.
- clear interface, enough contrast, distinguishing elements not only with colors but also with shapes,
- possibility to navigate with sounds only with narrative assistance,
- chatbot assistance,
- gamers feedback channel establishing.
For further instructions go to Game Accessibility Guidelines.
Sometimes creating accessibility awareness can be daunting, but it is well worth the effort. We recognize the dedication of advocates for this cause and we profoundly appreciate the efforts of those who participate and support accessibility events. As we were once newcomers to accessibility work, we were deeply grateful for those who guided us, and we now strive to encourage and inspire others to become involved in this critical issue.
Stay tuned for more!