Children's charity SpecialEffect has opened a dedicated accessible games suite – the first of its kind – at a UK hospice, helping youngsters enjoy videogames regardless of physical disabilities.
The purpose-built facility at Helen and Douglas House in Oxfordshire offers a range of accessible gaming devices, from switches to eye-control, with staff receiving specialised training to maximise the positive impact of the technology.
The launch is a major milestone in the charity's Game For Helen project, named after a regular visitor to the hospice, a young girl with a rare metabolic disorder that prevents her from controlling her body well enough to use traditional gaming controllers.
"Throughout the Game for Helen project, my team has worked tirelessly to raise the funds to provide both the technology and expertise to enable the widest possible range of children to find a way into the games they like most," said SpecialEffect director Dr. Mick Donegan.
He added: "Helen, the young person after whom the project was named, is now able to play her favourite games using either of two gaze-controlled computers. I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have generously supported this ground-breaking project."
"The value of the expertise which SpecialEffect have brought to Helen & Douglas House is immense," commented Helen and Douglas spokesman David Pastor. "As a result of SpecialEffect's involvement many more children and young adults are able to use bespoke equipment and games to their benefit".
Helen and Douglas House offers support to children and young adults with severe life-shortening conditions.
The launch of the gaming suite marked the culmination of a successful year for SpecialEffect, in which it won the official support of industry charity GamesAid, demoed its technology to the general public at Eurogamer Expo 2010, and earlier this month received a donation of Ł23,000 from money raised at the Intellect Annual Charity Ball.