Gaming with a learning or cognitive disability

There are many games that can be played by people with a learning disability. These can basically be categorized as:
1) games not specifically designed to be accessible (mainstream video games)
2) games specifically designed to be accessible (one switch games and video games that are accessible by original design).

Mainstream Video Games
As described above, the majority of mainstream video games are playable by gamers with learning disabilities. Especially gamers with mild learning disabilities hardly have any trouble playing games. For example, there are many gamers with a slight degree of dyslexia who have no trouble with computer games whatsoever. This does not mean that all mainstream computer games are completely accessible as many gamers with learning disabilities might have trouble with certain games. for example, gamers with Dyscalculia are likely to experience problems with Nintendo’s BrainAge.

One Switch Games
One switch games (sometimes also referred to as ‘single switch games’ or simply ‘switch games’) are games that have been specifically designed to be controlled with a single input controller. This could be a single button, a mouseclick or (with the right hardware) an eye-blink. Due to the limited controls one switch games are not only very accessible for gamers with limited physical abilities, but often very easy to understand and play for gamers with a learning disability too. Most one switch games have been developed by hobby developers and small dedicated companies.

Video games that are accessible through original design
There are many examples of videogames which have been specifically designed for gamers with (severe) learning disabilities. These are often simple games with limited controls and simple interactivity.

Start gaming
Due to the huge spectrum of learning disabilities (including the varying degrees), it is near to impossible to define a single list of games for all learning disabilities. However, here are several resources to start gaming that deal with games specifically designed to be accessible for people with learning disabilities.

  • One Switch is the biggest online archive concerning single switch games. The website not only offers reviews and download links to more than 70 one switch games, but also provides background information about one switch gaming and several tutorials on making switch interfaces for games.
  • SEN Switcher offers various ’cause and effect’ activities for absolute beginners.
  • Inclusive Technology has developed various simple and fun games for BBC’s CBeebies websiteInclusive Technology also developes several other games for people with a learning disability.
  • Arcess.com provides three fun single switch arcade games.
  • RJ Cooper  offers two single switch arcade games.
  • MarblesoftNovita Tech and StarQuail all sell commercial single switch games.

The following list of links is recommended by One Switch for gamers with severe learning disabilities. These recommendations concentrate more on simplicity of the gameplay and controls than anything else. Some people will of course need help in getting set up and playing the game too. They are in very approximate order of difficulty.

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