A new Microsoft patent shows how the company might make its Xbox console more accessible to visually-impaired people.
The patent describes a new accessory for Xbox controllers that functions like a Braille touchscreen — it’d give gamers a live feed of on-screen text and chat, according to LetsGoDigital.
For people with the degree of visual impairments called “low vision,” 30 percent report that their vision “notably impacts” their ability to use a computer, according to a study conducted by an online accessibility organization called WebAIM.
Almost half of the people surveyed use screen readers, screen magnification tools, or increase the size of text on their computers. But with games, those options aren’t available, so people who can see well enough to play the game but not well enough to read the on-screen text generally miss out.
The Braille display, which sits on the back of the controller where a person’s fingers would already be resting, also lets the gamer type and participate in online chat, and translates voice commands, according to LetsGoDigital.
It’s worth pointing out that the existence of a patent isn’t the same as a real product — though GameInformer speculates that an announcement may be coming at June’s E3 conference. The patent was awarded on Thursday but first filed back in October, so there’s no telling whether Microsoft changed its plans since then.
But given the goodwill Microsoft racked up when it announced its Xbox Adaptive Controller, a simplified controller with two hand-sized buttons and an oversized D-pad for people with physical disabilities, it makes sense for the company to continue pursuing new ways to make gaming more accessible.
READ MORE: Microsoft Xbox game controller with haptic braille output [LetsGoDigital]