I know it's been forever since I've posted anything or really done anything of significance on this site, but in the off chance anyone is still interested I wanted to give an update on some of the things that I've been working on.
I retired from the Air Force years ago and moved to Georgia where I got married to Liz my long time girlfriend. I now work at Georgia Tech at a program called Tools for Life. Tools for Life is the state Assistive Technology program for Georgia. We serve all residents of Georgia regardless of age, disability, etc. We help people with disabilities be more independent through the use of technology. I am the Accomodations Specialist, my job is to be the eyes and ears of the team when it comes to cutting edge and emerging technologies that can be leveraged by people with disabilities to be more independent in any part of their life. Whether it's work, home, school, or play we try to find solutions for people to overcome their obstacles and barriers.
I've taken it even a step further and have created our gaming lab. Iit isn't enough for someone to just be able to get out of bed, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed and repeat that over and over everyday for the rest of their life. There needs to be recreational and social outlets for someone to be able to live their life to the fullest. The gaming lab was established to show that technology has come far enough that everyone is able to enjoy using their video game console. It's just a matter of showing them what solutions are available to make those experiences accessible.
I really feel like "Video Game Console" is a misnomer. There is so much more that can be done on an Xbox One, for example, than just playing video games. These are entertainment consoles now! You can listen to music, watch tv, access an internet browser, use facebook and twitter apps, video conference on your tv using Skype, watch youtube, netflix, the list goes on. For someone with a disability the ability to access all of this so easily using your voice, or a controller, or remote control, or smart device, is life changing.
So, I established a relationship with Microsoft and they graciously donated an Xbox One and Kinect to the lab. I'm hoping to expand and get a Playstation 4 and some PC equipment including a VR rig to further explore the accessibility of these platforms and the experiences they offer. If you have any contacts that I could use to establish relationships with people who could provide this equipment, it would be greatly appreciated. (I already own an Xbox One with Kinect and a PS4 and a gaming PC at home, in case you were worried this is some scam to finance my videogame habit.)
Furthermore, I hope to establish a Twitch channel that will broadcast regularly reviewing the accessbility of AAA games as they come out, demonstrate technologies that make games accessible, showcase gamers with disabilities playing games well, and spread awareness to developers and the general public about the importance of videogame accessibility. Eventually, after broadcasting regularly and building a subscriber base, I would like to do a marathon fundraiser similar to Awesome Games Done Quick. If you aren't familiar with AGDQ, go check it out. They recently streamed a 7 day 24 hours a day marathon raising $1.25 million dollars for Doctors Without Borders.
Last year I organized the first ever panel on Gaming and Accessibility to be featured at DragonCon. It was a big hit and I was asked to do it again this year. The panel consists of researchers, advocates, gamers, and developers. We sit down and have a Q&A session about the current state of video game accessibility. If you are attending DragonCon this year, I encourage you to join us in the Westin in Augusta E-G at 7 pm Sunday.
I'm also working a lot with Environmental Control. Setting up technology so when you are in a room you can say, "Turn on the lights." and the lights come on. "It's too cold in here", and the thermostat turns up. etc. Environmental controls open a whole new world of independence up for people with disabilities. Someone who has never been able to reach and activate a light switch suddenly has newfound control over their life. This is something that people that are able bodied take for granted. It really is life changing for people with disabilities though.
Thanks for taking the time to read this! I still want to come to RTX someday and hang out with the old crew again. Maybe I can make it a work trip next year.