On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a slew of accessibility updates for Xbox players on consoles and PCs. These include keyboard key remapping using controllers, easier-to-get-to accessibility shortcuts and a new section in the Microsoft Store. In a reminder that inclusive design can help everyone, one of the new features will let anyone set up a new controller without getting up to press a pair button on the console.
Wireless controller pairing no longer requires direct console contact. “From the comfort of a couch, wheelchair, hospital bed, etc., players can now put their console into pairing mode using an Xbox media remote, digital assistant voice command, or previously paired controller to connect a new controller to their console,” the company wrote today in a blog post. An official online support document walks you through the setup steps.
Microsoft also announced that “almost 90 keyboard keys” will soon be remappable to the Xbox Adaptive Controller and Elite Series 2 controllers. The idea is to make it easier for people with disabilities to play games that only support mouse / keyboard input. One example the company provides is reprogramming the left bumper to Ctrl+C for copying text.
In addition, the company is simplifying the steps to view options from the Xbox Accessibility menu. Beginning on October 19, the Xbox Game Bar on Windows will let you jump to accessibility settings via widgets. “In the updated Xbox widgets, you’ll find both visual and audio-related accessibility controls to customize your PC gaming experience according to your preferences and needs,” Microsoft wrote. Once the feature launches, you’ll get to the accessibility options via the settings button for “any of the new Xbox widgets in Game Bar.”
Finding accessibility-friendly games is about to get easier, too. The Xbox store now has a channel devoted to Accessibility in Games, featuring every title with corresponding feature tags. The labeling feature launched in 2021 and spread to the Windows app and web store earlier this year.
Finally, Microsoft shared the video below highlighting how the Adaptive Gaming program at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO, is empowering players with disabilities to rekindle their love of gaming.