Electronic Arts Works Towards Educating Teams About Disability Challenges
There’s been a lot of great leaps and strides lately in the gaming community when it comes to accessibility. Forza Horizon 5, for example, has a British and American sign language option for cinematics in the works. PlayStation has been coming forward with colorblindness options in its first-party games, and Xbox has been working on features for making its print more readable for its players, among other features. And now, Electronic Arts has spoken about how it’s making sure that its employees are aware of disabilities in the workplace, among other things.
What we learned is that EA worked together with ABLE, their Employee Resource Group, with the focus of Mental Illness Awareness Week. They brought AJ Mendez, the bestselling author, former WWE championship wrestler, and most importantly, mental health advocate, to share her experiences as someone who is a Latinx that also experiences Bipolar affective disorder (also known as BPAD). She also answered questions to an employee audience about mental disorders. Also, during each day of the same week, EA brought the spotlight onto those employees who shared and raised awareness about mental illnesses. These employees were from various parts of the globe- specifically, they came from Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, and the United States, showing that hopefully, that it can affect anyone, anywhere.
The week after, Electronic Arts hosted Driven to Inspire with Nicolas Hamilton. Hamilton has Cerebral Palsy and is a professional racecar driver in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). He answered questions to employees, talking of how he used to play racing games with his brother, and showing that he is not just his disability- that he is far, far more than that. There was also work with SpecialEffect, a company that attempts to use innovative technology with gaming in order to make things more accessible for those with physical disabilities, and together with SpecialEffect, the employees of EA raised two thousand dollars for the charity, One Special day.
Most importantly, perhaps. EA’s Director of Accessibility, Karen Stevens, spoke to employees about practical tips on making work more accessible to others in the workplace. And too, there was another chat, which not only included employees but had Senior Specialist in Accessibility at Apple, Patrick McDowell, talked about going through the world while possessing visible and invisible disabilities.
These are great strides forward for such a large company, and it is good that they are acknowledging that disabled people do exist in the workplace. However, this should only be the start of making accommodations and strides towards a more inclusive workplace in the gaming industry. For example, using mental illness instead of mental disorder would be a great start, as well as bringing forth policies that would accommodate those with various disabilities would be great strides towards this. It is great, however, that EA did at least have a few people who go through the process of having visible and invisible disabilities on a daily basis talk and answer questions to curious employees.
Now we’ll just have to see how this will be put into practice for future EA games and updates.