Game Accessibility for the Blind: Current Overview and the Potential Application of Audio Description as the Way Forward

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting book series (PTTI)


Over the past four decades video games have become a worldwide phenomenon and one of the preferred leisure options for many. However, game accessibility remains a pending issue, due to the visual and interactive nature of the medium. Mangiron and Zhang analyse the current state of game accessibility, particularly for the blind and visually impaired. They discuss the barriers and gaming options for this target group, such as audio games and ‘video-less’ games. Finally, the chapter explores the feasibility of applying audio description to video games, which would potentially enhance game accessibility for blind and visually impaired players.


Blind User Impaired User Game Industry Audio Description Game Genre 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research is supported by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness no. FFI2012-39056-C02-01 ‘Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing and audio description: new formats’, and by the Catalan Government fund 2014SGR27. It has also been partially funded by the European Union project HBB4ALL from the FP7 CIP-ICT-PSP.2013.5.1 # 621014.


  1. Archambault, D., Olivier, D., & Svensson, H. (2005). Computer games that work for visually impaired children. In C. Stephanidis (Ed.), Proceedings of HCI international 2005 conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, July 2005Google Scholar
  2. Archambault, D., Ossmann, R., Gaudy, T., & Miesenberger, K. (2007). Computer games and visually impaired people. Upgrade, 8(2), 43–53.Google Scholar
  3. Benecke, B. (2004). Audio-description. Meta: Journal des Traducteurs/Meta: Translator’s Journal, 49, 78–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bierre, K., Chetwynd, J., Ellis, B., Hinn, D. M., Ludi, S., & Westin, T. (2005). Game not over: Accessibility issues in video games. Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on universal access in human-computer interaction (pp. 22–27).Google Scholar
  5. Brandon, A. (2005). Audio for games: Planning, process and production. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.Google Scholar
  6. Brennan, C. (2014) “Video-less” 3D Games Developed for Blind Players. BBC News 19 August. Accessed June 20, 2015, from Scholar
  7. Chacón, J. (2012). Software Accesible y Software Específico. In: L. Pérez-Castilla (Ed.), Buenas Prácticas en Accesibilidad en Videojuegos (Madrid: Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad).Google Scholar
  8. Dowino (n.d.). Self-initiated Work. Accessed June 20, 2015, from Scholar
  9. Friberg, J., & Gärdenfors, D. (2004). Audio games: New perspectives on game audio. Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGCHI international conference on advances in computer entertainment technology (pp. 148–154). ACM.Google Scholar
  10. Glinert, E. (2008). Designing games that are accessible to everyone. Gamasutra. Accessed June 20, 2015, from Scholar
  11. Grammenos, D., & Savidis, A. (2006). Unified design of universally accessible games (say what?). Gamasutra. Accessed June 17, 2015, from Scholar
  12. Grammenos, D., Savidis, A., Georgalis, Y., & Stephanidis, C. (2006). Access invaders: Developing a universally accessible action game. In K. Miesenberger, J. Klaus, W. Zagler, & A. Karshmer (Eds.), Computers helping people with special needs. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  13. Grammenos, D., Savidis, A., & Stephanidis, C. (2009). Designing universally accessible games. Computer Entertainment, 7(1), 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hancock, H. (2002). Better game design through cutscenes. Gamasutra. Accessed June 15, 2015, from
  15. Huiberts, S. (2008). Audio-only Menus. Accessed June 15, 2015, from
  16. IGDA Game Accessibility SIG. (2004). Accessibility in games: Motivations and approaches. Accessed June 15, 2015, from Scholar
  17. Mairena, J. (2009). Videojuegos accesibles: por qué y cómo hacerlos. Paper presented at the IV Congress of Cyber Society 2009: Analog crisis, digital future. Accessed June 15, 2015, from Scholar
  18. Mangiron, C. (2013). Subtitling in game localisation: A descriptive study. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 21(1), 42–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. O’Hagan, M., & Mangiron, C. (2013). Game localization: Translating for the global digital entertainment industry. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Orero, P. (2005). Audio description: Professional recognition, practice and standards in Spain. Translation Watch Quarterly, 1, 7–18.Google Scholar
  21. Reinhard, B. (2014). A sound solution: History of audio games for the visually impaired. Accessed June 15, 2015, from Scholar
  22. Somethin’ else. (n.d.). Gaming for Gamers. Accessed June 20, 2015, from Scholar
  23. Targett, S., & Fernstöm, M. (2003). Audio Games: Fun for All? All for Fun? Proceedings of the 2003 international conference on auditory display, Boston, MA, USE, 6–9 June 2003.Google Scholar
  24. Torrente, J., Marchiori, E. J., Vallejo-Pinto, J. A., Ortega-Moral, M., Moreno-Ger, P., & Fernández-Manjón, B. (2013). Evaluation of three accessible interfaces for educational point-and-click computer games. Accepted for publication in Journal of Research and Practice in Information Technology (JRPIT). Accessed June 20, 2015, from Scholar
  25. Visual Elements within Games. (2015). Visual elements within games. Accessed June 20, 2015, from
  26. Willems, R., Pinkster, C., Schultz, S., & Kuiper-Hoyng, L. (2011). Co-creating a Wii-game for the Blind and Sighted. Accessed June 26, 2015, from Scholar
  27. Winberg, F., & Hellström, S. (2000). Investigating Auditory Direct Manipulation: Sonifying the Towers of Hanoi. CHI’00 extended abstracts on human factors in computing systems (pp. 281–282). ACM.Google Scholar
  28. World Health Organization. (2014). Disability and Health. Accessed June 26, 2015, from Scholar
  29. Yuan, B., & Folmer, E. (2008). Blind hero: Enabling guitar hero for the visually impaired. Proceedings of the 10th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on computers and accessibility (pp. 169–176).Google Scholar
  30. Yuan, B., Folmer, E., & Harris, F. C., Jr. (2011). Game accessibility: A survey. Universal Access in the Information Society, 10(1), 81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.University of ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations