Finalist category: Accessibility Award
Accessibility Award, Finalist, 2019
Everyone Can helps disabled people to speak, control their environment, gain independence and have fun through training and assistive technology. By carrying out assessments to see how a person’s disability is holding them back, they can then find technology that can help them achieve their goals.
As part of the charity, they provide a gaming service for disabled people at their Technology & Gaming centre in Manchester. With around five gaming sessions a week for disabled children and adults, facilities include: 150 inch screens for multiplayer games, a driving rig, two virtual reality stations and three assistive gaming stations for children/adults who are unable to use a regular controller. These stations are designed to quickly assess the individual and then get them gaming in the way easiest for them e.g. joysticks, switch buttons, eye movements, head movements etc.
With their knowledge and expertise, the team are able to break down barriers for disabled people. For example, if a severely disabled person who is unable to move their body from the neck down, comes into the centre, they can use eye gaze. The centre purchased the correct eye gaze device, purchased the suitable software and can configure it to play games. One of the popular games being Dirt 3, a rally car racing game where people can play just using their eye movements. Every disability is different, so everything they set up for a disabled person is unique. Meeting those individuals is what helps the centre develop its technology, design adaptations with its 3D printer and invest in new technology.
Everyone Can has seen first-hand the benefits that gaming has had on disabled children and adults, whether they’re physically disabled or have a learning disability. Their services help physically disabled people overcome obstacles that their disability prevents them from achieving, ensuring they can take a more active and independent place in society. People with learning disabilities can also grow in confidence and social skills. A number of children with autism who struggle to socialise have visited the centre regularly, and staff have seen them grow in confidence, speak to new people and deal better with situations such as losing on a game.
All of Everyone Can’s services are free for disabled people and although based in Manchester they also travel around the UK delivering their services, ensuring that all disabled people can benefit. The team travel the UK doing assessments for disabled people and also pack the van up with gaming equipment and travel to other disability groups/charities to deliver the gaming service if they’re unable to go to the centre. The service is also unique to any other disability activity as non-disabled siblings or friends are also invited to the gaming sessions, so all the family can join in rather than one child attending and another having to go elsewhere.
The centre has now been open for a year and is getting more and more well-known and growing in popularity. Due to the amount of gaming machines and space, there is only room for 25 people gaming at one time and a waiting list in place. The team want the charity to grow, so are aiming to get more gaming equipment to up their capacity. Looking even further forward this would mean a bigger centre. Both of these mean we require more funding so they are looking into organising fundraising events for the charity and hoping to gain more support from donations and corporate support e.g. dress down days/raffles/bake sales.