The AbleGamers Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity organization established in 2004 that is devoted to helping our fellow humans with disabilities get into gaming, get back into gaming, and keep gaming, despite their ailments. Through a generous grant from Level Access (the corporate brand name of digital accessibility firm SSB Bart Group), AbleGamers recently opened the doors on a new Center for Inclusive Play in Charles Town, West Virginia. The Center will greatly increase the charity’s capacity to offer enhanced disability educational resources and direct support to disabled gamers.
“Thanks to the gracious support of Level Access, AbleGamers is now better equipped to deliver support to our nation’s community of thirty-three million gamers with disabilities,” said AbleGamers COO Steve Spohn in a press release statement. “Whereas in the past we have been limited to holding finite consultations off-site or online, the new AbleGamers Center for Inclusive Play vastly improves our ability to host in-person appointments, develop content for gamers with disabilities and to offer an impactful resource for the local Charles Town community.”
The new Center for Inclusive Play is about twice the size of AbleGamers’ previous center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and will be open to the public every Thursday. The larger building has allowed AbleGamers to dedicate an entire room to housing a new 3D printer, which will be used for developing and customizing assistive gaming technologies. The Center also has a studio for producing video content and live streaming charity events.
The new Center will also boost AbleGamer’s efforts in providing several other important services, including:
- Additional free one-on-one consultations with gamers challenged by disabilities
- Live demonstrations, customization, and instruction on accessible gaming peripherals
- Grant and sponsorship support for free accessible gaming hardware for gamers with disabilities
- A significantly larger operations facility, dramatically improving logistics of AbleGamers’ Expansion Packs — comprehensive care packages of assistive gaming technologies donated to disabled gamers at long-term care facilities, complete with setup, usage, and maintenance support
“Level Access is honored to support AbleGamers and their important, inspiring mission,” said Level Access co-founder and CEO, Timothy Springer, in a press release statement. “Video games can help transcend disabilities and serve as fantastic tools to encourage, entertain, empower and connect often socially isolated individuals. With this larger facility, AbleGamers will be able to more effectively spread awareness for and foster support of enhanced accessibility in gaming, positively touching an even greater number of lives.”
For a detailed look at the work and impact of the AbleGamers Center for Inclusive Play, watch this CNET video story about Christie Moyer, a gamer who developed cerebral palsy that caused her have to stop playing video games, an enjoyable activity she shared with her husband, Benjamin. After consulting with AbleGamers, the charity built a customized touch keyboard and 3D rudder foot panel controller that revived her ability to play video games.
If you’re a fan of e-sports, then you may already know about the wonderful story of Mike Begum, aka BrolyLegs. Begum was born with arthrogryposis, a disease that severely limits the body’s muscle growth and development. Yet, despite not having full use of his hands to hold something as simple as a game controller, Begum ascended the e-sports ranks to become the top-ranked Chun-Li player online in Ultra Street Fighter IV.
According to a 2008 Information Solutions Group survey, one out of every five gamers is disabled, yet they still play video games in an effort to improve their lives. AbleGamers points to Begum as a prime example of this, and why they created the concept of Includification, which stresses the importance of making video games accessible to everyone.
Beyond being just a charity, AbleGamers is also a thriving community of gamers with and without disabilities working and playing together to help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through the power of video games. Just this month AbleGamers launched the ‘ A Day To Game’ fundraising initiative, which works much like the Extra Life charity event.
“A Day to Game is an ongoing initiative that began this month where we ask the AbleGamers community to pick out a day to treat themselves to a gaming marathon,” said Spohn. “While doing so, they can also raise funds for the AbleGamers charity by hosting a donor drive campaign at https://ablegamers.donordrive.com. We invite everyone to raise awareness however they can. Many do so by streaming their marathons on Twitch, Youtube, etc. Their friends, family and/or fan community can support them by watching and spreading the word.”
You can follow AbleGamers Foundation and their outstanding efforts on their social media Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Also, click over and give their Twitch channel and visit and follow. And, of course, if you’d love to help support AbleGamers, click to their website to give a donation, or sign up for their A Day to Game program and host your own fundraising event on their behalf.
Are you a gamer getting support from and/or giving support to AbleGamers? Let us know your story in the comments below!
Image credits: AbleGamers Foundation