Microsoft has unveiled a series of accessibility updates for Xbox players on both consoles and PCs. These updates encompass keyboard key remapping through controllers, more accessible shortcuts, and a new section in the Microsoft Store. In a demonstration of the benefits of inclusive design, one of the new features allows anyone to set up a new controller without needing to physically press a pair button on the console.
Wireless controller pairing no longer requires direct physical contact with the console. Players can now activate the console’s pairing mode from the comfort of their couch, wheelchair, hospital bed, and more using an Xbox media remote, digital assistant voice command, or a previously paired controller to connect a new controller to the console. Detailed setup instructions are available in an official online support document.
Microsoft is also expanding remapping options by making “almost 90 keyboard keys” remappable to the Xbox Adaptive Controller and Elite Series 2 controllers. This improvement is designed to facilitate gameplay for individuals with disabilities, especially in games that typically only support mouse and keyboard input. For example, it allows reprogramming the left bumper to Ctrl+C for text copying.
To enhance accessibility, Microsoft is streamlining the process of accessing options from the Xbox Accessibility menu. Starting on October 19, the Xbox Game Bar on Windows will provide access to accessibility settings via widgets. These updated Xbox widgets will feature visual and audio-related accessibility controls that allow users to customize their PC gaming experience according to their preferences and requirements. The accessibility options will be accessible through the settings button within any of the new Xbox widgets in the Game Bar.
To make it easier for players to discover accessibility-friendly games, the Xbox store now features a dedicated channel called “Accessibility in Games.” This channel showcases all titles that include corresponding feature tags. The labeling feature was introduced in 2021 and has since expanded to the Windows app and web store earlier this year.
Microsoft also shared a video highlighting the Adaptive Gaming program at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO, showcasing how it empowers players with disabilities to reignite their passion for gaming.