Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

On Tech & Vision With Dr. Cal Roberts

Apr 14, 2023

This podcast is about big ideas on how technology is making life better for people with vision loss.

For decades, people with vision loss had limited options when it came to accessing video games. Aside from screen magnification and text-to-voice tools, gamers who are blind or visually impaired didn’t have many ways to play their favorite titles. But in recent years, the same cutting-edge technology used to create games has been used to also make them more accessible for people with vision impairment. These advances include more visibility options, the implementation of 3D audio, haptic feedback, and customizable controllers for gamers with vision impairment. Furthermore, 3D audio technologies being developed in live sports may soon make their way to online multiplayer video games. The implementation and improvement of these technologies mean that everyone will be able to play together, regardless of their visual acuity.


The Big Takeaways:

  • Leap in Accessible Gaming Options. In the past, the lack of accessibility features has made it much harder for gamers like Elaine Abdalla to access her favorite titles. But as gaming technology and accessibility improve, gamers like Elaine who are visually impaired are now able to more actively participate in their favorite titles. For example, The Last of Us: Part 2 boasts over 60 accessibility options including sophisticated visibility adjustments and inclusive difficulty settings.
  • Participating in the Process. Robin Spinks is the Head of Inclusive Design at the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). He helps gaming companies implement accessibility options as part of the design process from the very beginning. By ensuring people with vision loss are part of the process from the jump, Robin is helping make games more immersive than ever — for everyone.
  • Xbox Accessibility Team. Kaitlyn Jones first became passionate about gaming when she helped her father launch a nonprofit foundation that built customized setups for gamers with disabilities. She’s now the program manager of Xbox’s Gaming Accessibility Team. They develop guidelines for all kinds of accessible gaming options, including for people with vision loss. Thanks to her team’s efforts, new titles include options like spatial audio cues, which make it easier for gamers who are blind to navigate complex dungeons and unlock achievements.
  • Action Audio. At the 2022 Australian Open, a new technology called Action Audio became available for tennis fans with vision loss. Through cutting-edge camera tracking technology, Action Audio creates an information-rich 3D audio experience that allows tennis fans with vision loss to experience every thrilling rally as it happened, and to share in a communal experience.
  • Spatial Audio in Gaming. Action Audio’s developers hope to make it a universal technology that can also be used in gaming. Whether it’s working with a team in the latest first-person shooter or dribbling around opponents on a virtual basketball court, 3D (or spatial) audio technology is positioned to help people with vision loss to more equitably participate in the gaming community.



  • “The motivation here is to remove barriers, to form partnerships, and to collaborate so that going forward it becomes a much more possible area of life for people. ’Cause gaming's fantastic, right? And why should you be stopped from enjoying it just because you’re blind or partially sighted?” — Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design at RNIB
  • “When something happens on the court, it’s captured quite fast with Hawkeye within hundreds of milliseconds, and we’re able to take that data relatively quickly and generate the audio and then send it to the broadcast before it’s received in the real world.” — Tim Devine, AKQA Executive Director of Innovation
  • “It’s like that Japanese principle of continuous improvement, kaizen, where you’re kind of constantly looking to do things better. That’s what we want to see in the gaming world. — Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design at RNIB
  • “We’ve always really prioritized accessibility along the way. But I think in terms of the journey of, even where we started when I first joined the team a few years ago versus now, I think the bar honestly just keeps getting higher and higher.” — Kaitlyn Jones, Program Manager: Xbox Accessibility Team
  • “I’m just happy to see the disabled community is finally getting the assistance they need. It’s taken a while and it’s still gonna take a while, but we’re going in the right direction.” — Elaine Abdalla, creator of BlindGamerChick YouTube Channel

Contact Us:


Pertinent Links: