Disability History Month Tech Talk 2: What Technological Solutions to Attending Events in 2020 Should We Keep in a Post Covid World?

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another post on Technology Reviews! As you will have read or heard in last week’s blog, vlog and podcast, this week we’re going to be looking at what technological solutions to attending events in 2020 we should keep in a post Covid world, as we begin talking more about what the new normal will be.

So as we know, 2020 has been a hard year in many areas of society. On one end you have the infection rates, mortality and long-lasting affects of having the virus, and on the other hand, you have businesses going bankrupt. Many conferences and other events have had to be moved online, which divides even more the rich in society with the Upper and Middle Classes, compare to the lower classes, who might not have any other means of attending events. We also have disabled and vulnerable people in all classes, who this year have been told to shut their social lives down.

However, while there are many bad sides to the pandemic, in a weird sort of way, modern technology has made life easier. In last Sunday’s blog I went into how technology, video chats and streaming services make it easier for disabled people to social distance and shield _ which if you haven’t seen them yet, can be seen further down the technologyreviews.co.uk blog, on the Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube, and on the Accessible Technology Podcast on the Phoebs Lyle Soundcloud account. But for many wheelchair dependent people, there will be many technological solutions to attending events this year that will have allowed them greater access to events than they would have otherwise had.

This is a list of some of the technological solutions that I think should stay around in a post Covid world to help bring around better accessibility.

No 1: Virtual Quizzes for Pubs and Businesses

Virtual quiz night background

If there’s a winner for anything that has taken off during the pandemic, it’s the craze for Virtual Quiz nights.

In a normal year, I would go to quiz nights in my local pubs quite regularly, and they are a great night out. I really enjoy the Christmas and Disney quizzes that go on and have scored well in both of them in the past.

But during the pandemic, that had to change.

My reason for including virtual quiz nights for pubs and businesses as my first point is because people with underlying health conditions will still be required to shield in the next year, at the same time as more will want to go out.

Most of the quizzes I go to give you a tablet or tell you to download an app or go to a website on your phone to join in, where you’d enter a code.

If bars, pubs and restaurants offered a certain amount of virtual tickets as well as in-person tickets, not only would it help people like me who still can’t get into a particular building, but it would also let people with underlying health conditions or who have got Covid-19 to still attend an event, just online.

No 2: Virtual Tours

As many of my Accessible Technology Podcast listeners will know, I have a slight obsession with Georgian history, most notably the Regency Era, as I am obsessed with the conversation and debate over who the Prince Regent, the future George IV, might have been.

At the beginning of 2020, I saw that there was going to be a lot of events held in Mainland GB about the Regent, and of course I wanted to go along, but because I can’t travel as easily because of my disability but also because a lot of planning has to go into it, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go.

This changed within a couple of weeks however when the coronavirus arrived in the UK and Ireland, and this is where, without sounding disrespectful to the millions of families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, I think the technological fixes have helped me as a disabled person.

Not only have I been able to go along to the George IV: Art and Spectacle exhibition virtually, but I’ve also been able to tour the Royal Brighton Pavilion, which I’m not sure I’d be able to access fully anyway with me being fully wheelchair dependent.

What really impresses me about the virtual tour of the Royal Pavilion is that you have your audio tour guide in each of the rooms, but a sign language or subtitle option would have to be included if virtual tours stayed around in the future, and I would also like the ability to move around the room by tapping the screen, or by staring in a particular direction to move round if I use a virtual reality headset.

No 3: Virtual Talks

Sticking again to the Regency, I was also able to attend a virtual talk on The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain, where Ian Mortimer was interviewed by HistoryExtra.

Since again, I can’t travel just as easily as other’s anyway, I feel like this allowed me to attend a talk that I’m generally interested in, and I’ve also been to a number of other virtual talks since.

Many historical buildings and museums don’t have the right wheelchair accessibility that they should have 25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act became law, and while I understand why this is the case, if there’s anything this pandemic can teach us, it’s that we have the technology now to let people attend in whatever way is safest and easiest to them, which could get around the disability discrimination problem.

If virtual tours and talks were packaged together in an All-Virtual-Pass, I’d definitely be interested in paying for it, and if someone told me they couldn’t offer an event to me in person because of accessibility issues but they could offer it to me virtually, I’d see it as a compromise. Even if half the questions come from the in person audience, and the other half come from the virtual audience.

Another reason why I’d like to see history conferences taking place in a half virtual, half in person scenario is because apparently my mother still likes to use her 2 holidays at history conferences a year as a change to get away from me. Giving that I still live at home, I have no idea why that is!

No 4: Online Conferences

During the various Lockdowns we’ve lived through, I’ve also been able to attend a vast number of technology conferences, which I think could also stay around in a half in person, half virtual event way.

As I said in point 1, there will still be people who need to shield in a post Covid world, but this would be a good way of letting us go to events while still looking after our health.

What I like about attending conferences virtually is how I’ve been able to talk with people and ask questions, as well as expanding my network and getting new contacts. But what I think could improve is allowing people to choose whether they would like to talk to the panelists in person or type their questions into the chat, but I think that’s doable anyway.

No 5: Virtual Meetings

At the minute, I’m volunteering as a Lead Reporter for Leonard Cheshire’s Change Makers Programme in Belfast, where I report on and try to change issues that disabled people in the community are concerned about.

In a Post Covid world, I do hope to get reporting on most stories and conducting interviews with people in person, but as someone who lives in Northern Ireland and can’t travel as easily as others, I will be doing most of my work over Zoom.

Conclusion

But anyway guys, what do you think? Do you agree with everything I’ve said, or do you think there’s any other areas where going half virtual and half in person could help? Looking forward, it seems doing a bit of both worlds is what we’re going to be looking at, so we may as well get something that’s as accessible for everyone.

Disability History Month Tech Talk 1: How Technology, Streaming Services and Video Chats Have Helped Disabled People with Shielding

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another blog! As Disability History Month runs from November 22nd – December 22nd, this is going to be a blog mixing the title with how I feel personally about Disability History Month, and I hope you enjoy all the different content I’m going to bring you over the next few weeks. As you heard in the last vlog _ which if you haven’t seen yet, you can find by searching for Phoebs Does Technology Reviews on YouTube _ I’m going to be doing these every few days from 22nd November – 22nd December, but now let’s get into it!

So what does Disability History Month mean to me? It means, as ugly as our history might be, looking into the days when we were mocked _ which you could argue, still happens when non-disabled actors are chosen to play us in films and tv shows _ to looking at the shame we brought centuries ago when for years we were isolated, to looking back at the early 1990s when disabled people protested for more rights and won us the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, to fighting to overcome the rise in Ableism we have today so we can achieve equality!

Yet the year we’ve had was unforeseen by everyone. 2020 was looked forward to as a year which would be everyone’s year, but the global pandemic changed everything. Disabled and vulnerable people were forced into shielding at the start of the year, and some have had to remain in shielding to this day.

But for many, the use of every day technology has brought around a glimpse of the outside world. Although shielding has been paused for a few months, I still haven’t been out too much (but as something that on a normal year I would do a lot of anyway), I’ve found it easier than others, in many way thanks to modern day technology.

How Technology and Video Chats have Helped Disabled People with Social Distancing

I’ll admit, when I was told to stay inside when the original lockdown first happened, it was hard. It was hard to fight the urge not to go for a walk around the pier on hot summer, or to meet up with friends, but despite the temptations, I knew I couldn’t. But there were other ways I got around it.

Video chats have come a long way since the early 2000s, when Skype was the only one you could choose, or since 2010, when it was challenged by Apple’s FaceTime. In 2020, however, there’s so many to choose from, so whether you choose to meet up with one friend over FaceTime, which I’ve done many times, or set up a group catch up for a quiz night _ something I’d like to do at some point if someone could give me counters on how to set it up – but other hobbies can be included _ then there’s something for everyone to meet up with your friends even if you’re not in the same place.

But if one of the many group video chats can take the crown for most talked about this year, then it’s Zoom.

Zoom has been used during the pandemic to go to meetings, to run webinars, for education in some countries and a lot more! Ranked number one in Customer Reviews, I think it’s well worth what it is whether you’re using the free membership _ which limits you to 40 minute calls _ or the paid subscriptions which give you unlimited call lengths.

I think moving conferences and webinars online have also helped in another way, though, and that is in the way that as a disabled person, I’ve been able to attend talks and conferences that I might not have been able to otherwise go to, for lack of wheelchair access.

As a lot of my Accessible Technology Podcast listeners will know, I have a slight obsession with anything that is to do with the Georgians. Last week, I was able to attend a webinar of the Regency on my iPad which I could mirror off my tv, and was able to go along with it that way. If _ Heaven forbid _ Covid did not happen _ I’m not sure I would have got this sort of access _ and this will be something I’ll be talking about more in next weekend’s content _ which will be on what technological-based solutions to the Covid Pandemic I think should stay in place in a post-Covid world.

But it isn’t just video chats that I feel have helped disabled people social distance, but with a rise in Adaptive Gaming, disabled people have also been able to remain in contact with their able-bodied and non-disabled friends over gaming subscriptions. No matter which platform you choose, most gaming platforms have subscriptions which let you communicate with your mates without being in the same room, which was cool with all young people before the pandemic, even more now that since the Xbox Adaptive Controller was launched, disabled people have had greater access to playing the games they like with their friends across all platforms.

How streaming services have helped disabled people with social distancing as well

But it isn’t all just the mainstream tech and video chats that have helped disabled people with Social Distancing. Our choice of Streaming Services has also doubled since the early 2010s. Even live tv now is caught mainly through streaming, but as for how much content across all the services helps with social distancing, it very much depends on what content appears on what one.

The big three this year have been Netflix vs Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video, but it’s clear that Netflix and Disney Plus are the ones in front. What Disney Plus offer that Netflix doesn’t, is theatre productions being available on their service. Between July 3rd through 13th 2020, the live performance of Hamilton on DisneyPlus was viewed by 2.7million households _ according to nexttv _ exceeding the number of people who have seen it live on stage.

As someone who hasn’t seen it live yet (as I can’t travel just as easily and so, would prefer to see if it comes to the Republic of Ireland first if not Northern Ireland), seeing the live version on DisneyPlus starring the original cast, is something I’m happy to say is my way of seeing it.

DisneyPlus has also given us access to other Broadway performances and movie premiers, which is something that if you have a very severe disability with health conditions that don’t let you go out, you often wouldn’t have access to anyway.

But Netflix is still seeming to do better than Disney Plus in other ways, with them beating them on the day they released season 5a of Lucifer, as well some of their other shows performing better. But for me, it very much depends on what I’m in the mood for. And Prime Video isn’t too bad either, without also adding in some good BBC programmes on the iPlayer, and other ones across other services.

What I’ll say, so I don’t end up squaring them off against each other any more, is that now it’s getting colder, I’m glad there’s enough content out to stop me going out in the cold when there’s nothing much to go to.

Conclusion

But overall, I would have to say yes; technology, video chats and streaming services have helped disabled people social distance, and shield. I hope I’m not the only one who feels like technology has allowed me greater access to things than I would have, but I’ll be talking more about this next week.

There have been bad sides as well with a rise in online Disability Hate Crime _ which, according to the BBC, has went up 84% in Wales _ and the how do special educational needs kids get looked after in school when they’re meant to be shielding argument is another one to get into.

Please tell me if you agree with what I’ve said regarding technology, video chats and streaming services, and if you’d like to see more on how technology has helped disabled people with Social Distancing and Shielding. But otherwise, I’ll see you for another one of these next week.

Oral B CrossAction White 6000 Electric Toothbrush Review

The Oral B White 6000 Electric Toothbrush with SmartThings is a battery powered toothbrush with Oral-B 3D Technology Movement, with round toothbrush heads which oscillate, rotate and pulsate to break up 100% more plaque compared to a manual toothbrush.

The first of it’s kind, this toothbrush offers adults the best guidance as far as tooth care goes, when you connect it via Bluetooth to the app. You also have 5 professional cleaning modes, from: daily clean, pro clean, sensitive, gum control and whitening.

The box the Oral B toothbrush comes in is Dark Blue, and in it you get one white handle for your bathroom and a charger (I don’t use the handle as I keep all my toothbrush stuff and toiletries in my bedroom), a 2 pin UK plug, 4 Brush Heads _ being CrossAction, 3D white, Sensi, and FlossAction _ and a timer. You can use the timer on the App as your main timer, which is helpful for me as a disabled person, because I don’t end up missing out.

The app is also very accessible, with the timer being at the bottom. Everything else in it only requires a single tap.

The Oral-B SmartSeries 6000 Electric Toothbrush costs £229 normally on Amazon, but is reduced to £88 now with the Amazon Black Friday deals.

Overall, you can really tell the difference between the Oral-B toothbrush and a regular toothbrush, so if you can afford it, it’s a good toothbrush to get. The battery also lasts 2 weeks if charged fully, so I’d give it’s features and accessibility in the app four stars.

Adjustable Stand for Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation Review

The Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation _ even now as a last gen smart speaker _ is a beautiful bit of technology to have around your house. Available in Charcoal, Heather Grey and Plum Fabric, it will look nice against any background _ and what better to add another bit of design than adding in an adjustable stand?

Many adjustable stands are available, but in this blog, we’re looking at the Bovon Table Holder for Echo Dot 3, with a 360○ adjustable bracket mount.

The Bavon Adjustable Stand for the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation is available on Amazon for £11, and comes in a white box with Echo Dot on the Stand _ among other things _ on it. Also in front, you have a blue sticker saying 100% fit for 3rd Gen, and inside, you get the table stand, with the 3600° mount to attach, and instructions. Over the last 11 months I’ve ended up losing the photos I had of how you build it while trying to keep background work for a book I’m writing, but I think you can find videos on YouTube on how to do it.

But overall, I would say the Adjustable Stand for Echo Dot 3rd generation is good, and it’s sturdy enough that it won’t fall if you don’t lift it while cleaning a surface under it. I also like how affordable it is, and it will definitely look nice against whichever background you put it in front.

Seagate External Hard Drive for Xbox One Review

Let’s face it! Nothing gets more annoying other than your gaming console running out of Storage _ whether you’re on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch or PC (though maybe it’s beaten by being forced into lockdown during a global pandemic) _ but second to that. The Hard Drive I’ve been using is 4TB and costs about £105, but there are lower amounts of storage ones available as well, and costing slightly cheaper.

The Hard Drive comes in a green see-through box, with you being able to see the Hard Drive through it. Information will be displayed at the top of it and at the back about your storage and some other information. When you open it, you’ll see the Hard Drive, an HDMI Cable and information to help set it up, but now let’s get in to explaining how you do the setup and how you save games to it. The setup is the same with all hard drives.

So if you have your Xbox turned on, all you’ll have to do is plug one bit of the USB into the External Hard Drive, and the other bit into the Xbox. What will then happen is something will appear on the screen asking if you want to set up an external hard drive, and after you click format storage device, it will ask you to name it, then if you want to add games and apps to it.

This is the point where I just started adding games, but if you want to keep your current location, that’s fine. Overall, I think the setup is accessible for everyone to do, and the amount of storage I have still hasn’t ran out.

Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Xbox Gaming Headset Review

What’s up TR fans and welcome back for another headset review with Technology Reviews! When I started this blog a year ago, I started it with a review of my Scullcandy headphones, but since then, I didn’t publish any more headphone reviews. That changes today with this review of the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Xbox Gaming Headset! This is going to be one of the last reviews I’m going to publish for a while because I’m going to be bringing you a few other technology stories based on stuff that’s been announced recently and ones that might help us deal with circumstances of this year (I know, 2020 sucks), and I’m very excited to bring this all to you! However, this will be one of the only ones getting a video on YouTube, which I will get round to updating again soon!

So now, let’s get into this review!

The Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is a wireless gaming headset for Xbox, which I’ve been using each time I’ve been gaming on Xbox this year. Rated “One of the best wireless headsets you can use on Xbox One,” by WIRED, it has full surround sound and superhuman hearing, which really impresses me as far as Audio goes. The one I have is for Xbox since that’s my preferred console platform from the accessibility point and compatible with PC, but there’s also ones you can get for the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

Xbox Wireless provides you with a best-in-class wireless gaming audio experience on Xbox One, by letting you connect your STEALTH 600 gaming headset directly to your console without an adapter, the same way you’d connect your xbox wireless controller. Xbox Wireless automatically configures the headset’s connection, so you just have to turn it on and start playing!

Glasses friendly with an all-day 15 hour battery, as someone who uses glasses depending on how much text is in a game and depending on where I’m playing, you won’t feel like they get in the way.

It also has a microphone.

When we get into the box, you’ll see your literature, and the headset itself will be in the green packaging. I like how the packaging, itself, shows off the Xbox colours, and the Turtle Beach engraving, but other than that, they also seemed easy to get out.

So what do I think about the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 overall? The audio on it is good, and the battery lets you enjoy hours of wireless audio fun. Most of my gaming at the minute is single player _ so I can’t comment much on how well the microphone works _ but I might be able to comment more on it in future if I get more into multiplayer. The only thing I’d like to say from the Accessibility view point _ like I said in my Skullcandy review _ is about the idea of voice activated headphones / headsets. There’s been times when I’ve turned the headset on that the volume is completely down, and voice activation would just allow me _ as someone who can only use her head _ to turn them up without having to ask someone to turn the volume up for me. But other than that, I love them.

Problems with Marvel Avengers Game: Accessible Game Review.1

Problems with Marvel Avengers: Accessible Game Review Part 1, now on YouTube. If you enjoy this video and would like to see more, please subscribe to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews!

I’ve been looking forward to the new Marvel Avengers game for a few months, ever since I began getting into the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies this Summer, and found I absolutely loved them. The game is available on Playstation and Xbox, and after my preorder of the game failed because I ran out of money ordering other things, I ordered an Xbox version of it shortly after it’s release date last week, along with the steelbook.

I didn’t get a chance to play it when it first arrived _ having had a lot of previous engagements _ but because I wanted to do some research for a blog that will be out on here tomorrow, I put it in and installed the game last night after work. I remained excited about it while it loaded _ having seen a few clips and photos of it in previous days _ and as is often the case when a game first loads _ found I was able to use the main controls. However, the problem then arose when I got to the laser tag bit, when I found that I was able to Aim in with Lt on my Xbox Adaptive Controller, but that I would have to hold it down while turning round, and then shoot with Rt.

I find it difficult to hold a button down for a long time while doing something else, which is why Toggle Options are so important to me. In most shooter games, new ones have included Accessibility Options like Toggle Aim _ meaning someone like myself could just hit Lt (or whatever button that game has for Aim) once to let us aim on an object, then move round, and to just shoot when we’re ready.

After discovering the problem, I paused the game, and started looking through Settings. Most of the settings the game had were for subtitles, volume, and ones that would help with colour blindness and regular blindness, but when I went over to controller, there was nothing other than showing the controller layout, but even when I went to Gameplay Options, there was nothing. Seeing this, I then decided to try and see what the Latchbox would be like with it, and set it up to work with Lt. When everything was set up, I placed the switch by my head, and hit it to see if it would work. Basically, the light to indicate it was toggled on came on, but hitting it did nothing.

The reason I include Accessible Game Review.1 in the title of this blog is because I still want to play this game, and I would hate to give it a bad rap overall, based only on accessibility options, cuz if the right Toggle Options were added as soon as possible, I could give the game the proper game review it deserves. Having options like subtitles, text size, and options for blindness and colour blindness is brill, but if you can’t invite everyone to play together with the options that are better for them, then do you really want your game to be widely played?

I truly hope Crystal Dynamics and SquareEnix _ the companies that developed Marvel Avengers _ can introduce Toggle Options to the game soon, because otherwise it shows ableism towards one part of the disabled community!

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Does a Manfrotto Arm Make it to Press More Than One Button at the One Time?

Thanks to everyone who’s been viewing and enjoying all my recent blogs, vlogs and podcasts, even the unexpected blog and vlog from last night. More will be following on all three platforms this weekend and next, then for a few weekends then I will be focusing on getting more out on the blog and podcasts, at least until I can get a few more reviews out there and so I can bring forward some other stuff.

But in this blog _ which is actually planned _ I’m bringing you the last of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, for now. If there’s any other bits of equipment you think I should think about trying out, please reach out to me over social media. Someone told me last week how they don’t like seeing the social media places I have on the top of the blog, but if you’d like to follow them, they’re in a couple of my previous blogs, and I mention them in my YouTube videos and podcasts, so if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud, or follow Technology Reviews on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube Channel, all the information will be there.

Like the other Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs I’ve done, the Manfrotto arm _ and most of the other equipment you use with it _ was loaned to me by Special Effect, a UK charity helping to get disabled people of all ages back into gaming. The Xbox Elite Controller, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and the yellow switch are the only bits of equipment I actually own.

As the gaming world gets bigger, and the controls in games get even more compiled, it becomes a lot harder for people with disabilities to play games. Many games require you to hold two or more buttons down at the one time, and although Toggle Options have been introduced to help with holding Lt down to act as Accelerate in Racing games, or to help with Aim in Shooters, there are still many games when you need to press one button for jumping, while you move forward with either the left or right stick (depending on what stick you’ve customised the sticks on your controller to act as your main).

This can obviously be difficult for people who can’t jump around their controller quick enough to do, and so this is another option for people to use.

The Arm I’ve been loaned is the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm _ which costs £114 _ and as well as this, you will need a small triangular plate _ costing £20 _ and a Super Clamp with Stud _ which costs £31. There are cheaper Manfrotto arms to consider on Amazon, and this blog will be updated in future if I find out they do the same thing.

You can stick any bit of gaming equipment to the Manfrotto arm that suits you, with velcro working with lighter bits of equipment like switches, and Dual Lock working with controllers or joysticks. You can then place the arm near any part of your body that you want to use it with, but for me, I found it easier placing it by my head, and using my eyebrow to click any time I wanted to use the switch.

As usual, I just put the switch I wanted to use into the 3mm jacks at the back of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, so your equipments attached, depending on what it is you can figure out where it goes on the controller.

So that I could just play around with it without feeling bad for dying, I tried it out with Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy _ a game I only tried once when I first got it with the Xbox One S for Christmas 2018 _ and hadn’t tried it again. But with the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm, I was able to play a lot easier. The clip below shows this.

Playing Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy with Your Head and Mouth Using the Xbox Elite Series 2, XAC and Manfrotto Arm with Switches.

Overall, I would say the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm is good, but it’s price gives it a disadvantage regarding class, because what percentage of disabled people come from high-earning households? I would like to order one so I can play other games with it, like Assassin’s Creed, but yeah, the price makes it the most expensive of the equipment I’ve tried _ without adding in the add-ons.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Latchboxes Make it to Play Racing Games (Xbox)?

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier do Latchboxes Make it to Play Racing Games (Xbox) now on YouTube! If you like it, make sure to subscribe to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews on YouTube, where you’ll get tech reviews, game reviews, top 10s, opinion pieces and more uploaded a couple of times a month!

Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews, where today, I am posting another of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, on how much easier latchboxes make it to play racing games. But first of all a massive apology for not posting this in the last few weeks like I was supposed to. I’ve recently started volunteer work as a Lead Reporter for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Change Makers programme _ who I will be with until next year _ and the training we were doing this week meant I just couldn’t find the time. But also thanks to everyone who has been checking out my YouTube videos. Let’s see if we can keep this growing!

But as usual, before we get into this blog, here’s where you can follow me, Phoebs Lyle, on social media, and where you can also follow all the links I have for Technology Reviews! So if you like what you see here and you would like to see more about assistive and accessible technologies, as well as accessible game reviews, subscription platform reviews, opinion pieces and more _ you can do so by following this blog, technologyreviews.co.uk, and subscribing to the YouTube Channel, Phoebs Does Technology Reviews _ both of which are being updated most Sundays in a month! If you’d like to follow my personal Twitter, it is @Phoebslyle, and if you’d like to follow Technology Reviews on Twitter, it is @TechReviewsuk_. I’m also on Instagram, where you can follow at: therealphoebslyle, and Technology Reviews is also on there at: technologyreviewsuk! Lastly, I am also trying to set up a Podcast for Technology Reviews _ the Technology Reviews Accessible Technology Podcast _ which you can find by searching for Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud _ and you can also like the Facebook page, Technology Reviews, where I am starting to share videos, photos and all these blogs _ well, at least through Instagram to Facebook.

But now, let’s get into this blog!

The Latchbox I’m talking about in this blog was another bit of the equipment loaned to me by the UK charity _ Special Effect _ which is a charity getting disabled people back into gaming. Although I’m using it on my Xbox One S to play racing games and others like Red Dead Redemption 2, there are other systems which can use it _ I think Playstation and Nintendo both support it _ and this particular one is by a website called OneSwitch. It costs £35 and you will have to email to check availability, also paying for your shipping.

When I originally asked to try the Latchbox out, my main intentions were to try it out with racing games, and not to try it with others that don’t have Latching options built in, although I’ve since tried it with Red Dead Redemption. (If anyone reading this doesn’t know what Latching options are, they are basically the ability to hold down a button once to carry out a particular action, instead of having to hold it down for a long time, which many disabled people _ including myself _ might find difficult. Many new games come with these options already built in, but there’s even been some released in the last few years and older games that don’t have these options _ so a Latchbox is one of the bits of equipment you would order for those games that don’t). When playing racing games, I have to play with switches behind my head for excelerate and break, while moving the right analog stick to steer (I’ve tried other options but they’re just too uncomfortable).

But thinking primarily about a using a Latchbox as a way of overcoming the restriction of not being able to play racing games, I’d say it’s not the latchbox that is the actual problem, but instead it’s the way racing games are designed and how they need to look further into Accessibility as a whole _ and talk to more people _ so they can truly include other accessibility options that could make gaming truly inclusive. Something I would advise is if developers of racers could include an Accessibility option like: Lift Finger to Break, which for me would translate to lift head to break, and which would automatically go into the RT, R2 or Zr button on either Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo. This is something I’m thinking of talking about on another blog which I’m going to try writing soon, regarding accessibility options that would truly make gaming open to everyone, because although developers at Playground games behind the Forza series have become brilliant with their accessibility options in recent years _ both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport being great examples _ they _ and other developers out there _ could do more to make their options more accessible!

But since this blog is about the need for a Latchbox and not to go on a rant about racing games _ although my title doesn’t mention them _ I’ll look at some games a Latchbox could be useful for.

A game I’ve mentioned already but haven’t been able to give my thoughts on yet, is Red Dead Redemption 2. Despite a slow start _ which would be my only bit of criticism because the amount I can hold the sticks down is still my only problem _ knowing I’ll be able to play it using a Latchbox as my option for aiming leaves me wanting to keep trying it until I get to that bit.

So overall, I would say a Latchbox is a good bit of equipment to have, but it’s the people behind making games that need to make them more accessible. If you can’t include latching in your game, please make sure you’re game has other options to make them more accessible! For the past few months, I’ve felt like it’s easier to try Latching in shooter games instead of racing _ even though I’m a fan of both!

Latchboxes can plug into the USB port on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, with your chosen switch plugged into the In option.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Velcro Trays and Clamps Make It To Game?

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Velcro Trays and Clamps Make It To Game, now on YouTube! To view, search for Phoebs Does Technology Reviews, and make sure to like, comment and subscribe!

Thanks to everyone who’s viewed my last blog! When writing it, I honestly didn’t imagine it would get as many views as it has, so thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read it and to share it!

As mentioned in the tweet I sent out after, I’m going to be spend much of the coming days blogging more about accessible gaming solutions, and as you can see in this title, this is something I’m continuing now.

At the minute, I’ve been loaned accessible gaming equipment by Special Effect _ which is a UK charity that helps people with disabilities get back into video games, and which I have massive respect for. Some of the equipment I’m trying is to help me hold the controller _ something that I, and a lot of other gamers, have difficulty with, especially if you can do everything in front of the controller but not at the back, and if you can’t physically hold it yourself.

But before I get started, here’s another reminder of where you can follow me on social media. You can follow my personal Twitter at: @Phoebslyle on Twitter, and you can also follow Technology Reviews at: @TechReviewsuk_. I am also on Instagram at: therealphoebslyle, and if you want to follow Technology Reviews, it’s: technologyreviewsuk. I’m also trying to set up a Podcast for Technology Reviews called the Accessible Technology Podcast where you can listen to previous episodes by searching for Phoebs Lyle and which I should be able to update soon. You can also subscribe to the YouTube Channel which has been updated to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews and which I will get round to updating soon (I had to double check I would be able to upload this today, and I was going to film the other week but then I had to take a week off all work last week because my Aunt sadly died). But as well as all the other places you can find me, you can also like the Facebook Page which is Technology Reviews, and which all these blog posts share to. In the next few weeks, I will hopefully have more of my other content sharing to the Facebook Page as well.

But now, let’s get into this accessible gaming solution blog.

So yes, I’ve been loaned this equipment I’m reviewing today by Special Effect, but it is actually sold by Inclusive Technology, and developed by a company called Maxess. Inclusive sell a range of accessible technology for all different abilities, including what we’re reviewing today, the Maxess Switch Tray and the Maxess Medium Switch Mount.

Developed in partnership with therapists and switch users, the Maxess Switch Tray enables switches to be securely positioned and moved around in any way that might be most efficient for the switch user. Cushioned for comfort, the switch tray holds switches and mounts securely in control, making it ideal for people facing many situations. There are 3 sizes of trays available _ the Maxess Switch Tray 540mm x 290mm, the 350mm x 350mm, and the 240mm x 350mm.

Many switch owners find it easier to hit a switch if a switch is at an angle, which is what the Maxess switch mounts make possible. Like the switch trays, they’re available in a small, medium and large size. Double sided with velcro, they give two alternative mounting positions of 55° and 85° _ depending on what side is easier for the user _ and stick to the tray. But you don’t just have to stick switches to the mount, because I use it to use my Xbox Elite Controller, with the tray holding my Adaptive Controller and any other switches. I really like the feel of the Elite when mounted because it doesn’t move around as much as it would when I would mount it against a box it _ where it would stay for a bit but then fall. But be aware that you might need to stick pieces of velcro to the handles of the controller if you have similar problems holding it and you’re using the tray and clamp for that, because the controller can still slip depending on how much pressure you’re using and how long you’ve been using it. You don’t want the controller to slip slowly away from you on those long gaming days.

The Maxess Switch tray can be bought for between £30-£40 depending on what size you get and the Switch mount can be bought for between £16-£21, again depending on the size. But overall, I’m happy with what you can use it for.