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  • Writer's pictureMarc Almanzor

Breaking Barriers: How Easterseals Empowers Disabled Gamers in recent Fortnite Tournament, and MGA makes shoutcasting debut.

Updated: Mar 28

In a world where inclusivity in gaming is becoming increasingly important, organizations like Easterseals are leading the charge in breaking down barriers. Recently, Easterseals' ES Gaming initiative hosted its inaugural Game4Access Fortnite tournament that showcased the incredible talent of disabled gamers. With 11 teams consisting entirely of disabled players (44 in total), live ASL interpretation, and a variety of adaptive controllers, this tournament was not just about gaming; it was about empowerment and inclusivity.


Game4Access Fortnite Announce Team: (Left to Right) Erin Hawley - Easterseals, Lavender - ProBono ASL, Marc Almanzor - MGA Fundraising
Meet the Announce Team (Left to Right): Erin Hawley - Easterseals, Lavender - Pro Bono ASL, Marc Almanzor - MGA Fundraising

I am also proud of being part of an awesome announce team, with Erin Hawley and ProBono ASL, who provided three interpreters for the event. It was my first time shoutcasting, but I was comfortable with the role given my years of playing Fortnite. I hope it was entertaining for the viewers, but I was encouraged by the feedback so far!


Understanding the Importance of Inclusivity in Gaming:

Gaming has long been considered a universal language that transcends obstacles of language, culture, and physical ability. However, for many disabled gamers, traditional gaming spaces have not always been welcoming or accessible. This is where initiatives like ES Gaming and their Fortnite tournament come into play, highlighting the importance of inclusivity in gaming and providing a platform for disabled gamers to display their skills.

The ES Gaming Game4Access Fortnite Tournament: The tournament was an elimination race where each team tried to compile points by eliminating opponents. All 11 participating teams were fully comprised of 4 disabled gamers and competed in their own lobbies, meaning they likely played against lobbies of mostly able-bodied gamers. This format shattered stereotypes and demonstrated the incredible talent within the disabled gaming community. From tactical gameplay to impressive teamwork, each match highlighted individual skill and determination. Live ASL Interpretation

One of the standout features of the tournament was the inclusion of live ASL interpretation. This ensured that all participants, regardless of hearing ability, could fully engage in the gaming experience. If you're wondering why closed captions are not mentioned, Twitch already has several integrations that streamers can use to provide captions to their viewers However, real-time ASL interpretation was provided separately by ProBono ASL. By providing accessible communication, Easterseals further emphasized its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in gaming.

Empowering Disabled Gamers: Beyond the excitement of the tournament itself, the Easterseals' Fortnite event was a platform for empowerment. It provided disabled gamers with an opportunity to not only compete but also to be seen and celebrated for their abilities. By creating a space where disabled gamers could thrive, Easterseals is paving the way for a more inclusive gaming community. Spotlight on Adaptive Controllers: Adaptive controllers play a crucial role in empowering disabled gamers by providing them with customized and accessible ways to interact with video games. These controllers are designed to accommodate a wide range of physical abilities and disabilities, allowing gamers with diverse needs to fully participate and enjoy gaming experiences. In our previous post, we briefly discussed the development of adaptive controllers. However, this tournament brought attention to several other types of controllers: The first of these is the Quadstick, which was built for quadriplegics. It features a joystick that is controlled by the player's mouth with sip/puff sensors for additional hands-free inputs. Here you can see RockyNoHands using a Quadstick to secure the first win of the tournament:


The second controller is actually a program called VoiceAttack, which allows a player to utilize voice commands to control their character. This is especially useful for players who cannot use their hands.


Here you can see Patelasaur using VoiceAttack in the final moments of his team's round. Note on the left side under his webcam, the recorded commands: "one" (use item slot 1), "run", etc.:


All these adaptive controllers put in perspective what disabled gamers have to do in order to enjoy the same gaming experience the rest of us do. It's both fascinating and awe-inspiring to watch.

The Impact of Easterseals: The impact of initiatives like the ES Gaming Fortnite tournament extends far beyond the virtual battlefield. By showcasing the talents of disabled gamers and promoting inclusivity in gaming, Easterseals is driving positive change within the gaming industry. Through events like these, Easterseals is fostering a more inclusive and diverse gaming community by defying the stereotypes and stigmas around disabled gamers.



Inspiring Future Generations:

Beyond the excitement of competition, the ES Gaming Fortnite tournament served as a source of inspiration for disabled gamers everywhere. By showcasing the achievements of their peers, participants demonstrated that disability does not define one's potential in gaming. Instead, it is passion, determination, and a supportive community that truly drive success. Through events like this, Easterseals is paving the way for future generations of disabled gamers to pursue their dreams with confidence.

Conclusion:

As we reflect on the ES Gaming Fortnite tournament, it becomes evident that this event was more than just a gaming spectacle; it was a celebration of inclusivity, empowerment, and remarkable talent. By providing a platform for disabled gamers to shine, Easterseals has set a precedent for accessibility and inclusivity in the gaming world. However, more work needs to be done. While events like these are a step in the right direction, true inclusivity in gaming requires ongoing effort and advocacy. Moving forward, let us continue to support initiatives that foster a gaming community where everyone can thrive. Thank you to everyone who participated, supported, and cheered on our amazing gamers! In the meantime, if you need a Fortnite shoutcaster, don't hesitate to reach out! Useful Links: Easterseals - easterseals.com ES Gaming - esgaming.gg

ProBono ASL - probonoasl.com Quadstick - quadstick.com

VoiceAttack - voiceattack.com


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