Microsoft has announced an expansive set of new accessibility features coming to Xbox during its latest Xbox Accessibility Showcase.
The full 40-minute showcase is well worth a watch, featuring developer interviews and player insights across a wide range of accessibility issues, but the freshly announced features coming to Xbox soon and in the longer term are summarised below.
For starters, the Microsoft Store for Xbox will be getting a new accessibility panel on each game listing that’s designed to make it easier for players to discover titles that include accessibility features and to quickly identify what those features are. To begin with, 20 accessibility tags will be supported – including the likes of Narrated Game Menus, Input Remapping, and Single Stick Gameplay – and developers will be provided with a specific set of criteria for each feature to ensure there’s a consistent bar for quality.
Microsoft says it plans to refine these initial tags with input from its Xbox Accessibility Insiders League, who’ll have access to the new feature from today. The tags will also be added to the Xbox app on PC, the Xbox Game Pass apps, and Xbox.com in the coming months.
Additionally, the Xbox console menu’s Ease of Access section will be renamed Accessibility to make finding and using its features more intuitive, and a new Accessibility spotlight page will be added to Microsoft Store on Xbox in order to highlight games that “have numerous game accessibility feature tags, have been recognised by the Gaming & Disability community, and/or demonstrate innovative accessibility capabilities.”
Also on the way are Quick Settings – making it possible to quickly toggle accessibility features without leaving a game or app, and to quickly switch features on and off to better accommodate users with different accessibility needs – plus improved colour filters for Series X/S. The latter will enable those with colourblindness or colour vision deficiency to explore more current games as well as older Xbox titles that were previously colourblind inaccessible. The filters can be applied globally and will affect all games, movies, apps, and menus.
A new system-wide, schedulable Night Mode Display feature is, as previously announced, also in the works for Xbox consoles, intended to “help [users] get a better night’s sleep and support gamers with light sensitivity”. A customisable blue light filter is included, and it’s even possible to dim the power button on a controller and the power light on the console.
The coming weeks will also see the introduction of globalised speech-to-text and text-to-speech chat settings, while better cross-device connectivity and reduced latency have now been added to the Xbox Wireless Controller, Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, and the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
You’ll find more details on all of the above, alongside a sneak peek at the accessibility features coming to Halo Infinite, in Microsoft’s latest blog post.