“It takes away that barrier” – Kolo’s SpecialEffect support

Monday, July 8th, 2024

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This Disability Pride Month, we spoke to our fantastic ambassador and beneficiary Kolo about her gaming setup, and we’re grateful for the following illuminating insight into the cost of her kit, why gaming is important to her, and what it’s like being supported by SpecialEffect.

“Hi, I’m Kolo, and I have been helped by SpecialEffect since 2020.”

“The current adaptive gaming setup that I use involves a guitar pedal board, with switches on it, connected to either an Xbox Adaptive Controller or two PlayStation Access controllers, and then a traditional Xbox controller in my lap. I play with both controllers working together as if they were one input.”

Close up of sock-clad feet pressing down on two of ten buttons positioned of a footboard

Above: Kolo using her feet to press button switches on an adapted guitar pedal board

“Every disabled person is different, and even within the same diagnosis and the same symptoms, we all experience our disability differently. So, there’s no one size fits all option, and I’m so excited to be living in a world where there are strides being made in accessibility all the time.”

“When I first started being helped by SpecialEffect, I had really limited ability in my hands and I was playing entirely with my feet. I struggle with my hands and my grip especially. I’m able to use them, but my grip is not very strong, and my ability to be able to grip things for long periods of time isn’t fantastic. Quick time actions are really hard for me, too.”

“So, putting some of those functions on my feet means that I’m able to spread the load, reduce my hand fatigue, and be able to access gaming. This is what the foot controller part of my setup looks like. Primarily I use [the pedal board] for the trigger buttons on a traditional controller.”

Below: Kolo using her adaptive setup to play games like Subnautica with her feet:

Putting a price on playing

“The cost of my current setup to be able to play games on Xbox and on PC is in the region of £350, plus a traditional controller. And if I want to be able to on PlayStation, I then have to change my pedalboard and link it up to two PlayStation Access controllers.”

“My PlayStation Access Controllers were provided to me by PlayStation as review copies, but otherwise those would be an additional £80 each. So, all in all, the cost of my controller setup to be able to play games on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation is in the region of about £500:

– Xbox Adaptive Controller – £75
– Two sets of Logitech G adaptive gaming kits – £180
– Traditional Xbox Controller – £60
– Two PlayStation Access Controllers – £160
– Pedalboard – £45
– Wedges – £20 each
– Velcro Tape – £10”

“I think it’s also really important to say that it’s not just about the cost of what I use right now. It’s not just about the ‘absolutely can’t put a price on it’ advice and care from SpecialEffect. It’s also about the equipment that we trialled along the way that I just wouldn’t have been able to trial without SpecialEffect’s support. The loan enabled me to have the time to get settled with a kit and understand how to use it, and know that it was right for me, before I purchased those things for myself and sent the loan back for other disabled gamers to use.”

“I totalled up the cost of all of the equipment that SpecialEffect lent me on a long term loan and over time we trialled five or six different setups before we found something that was really suitable for me. Other equipment that SpecialEffect lent me has been:

– Six specialist switches – £354
– Titan Two Adapter – £100
– Two Xbox Adaptive Controller thumbsticks – £210
– Large Velcro tray – £40
– Adjusting tilting table – £40
– Game controller mixer – £420
– Ultra stick – £100”

“There were a few things I couldn’t find the price for, but for everything that I could, the total comes to £1224. That’s a lot of money.”

“And I realise that some people might ask, “well, why would you not just order it and try it? If it doesn’t work, you can send it back.” But it’s not always a case of being able to try something and return it if it doesn’t work for you, because not only is life proven to be more expensive for disabled people, not everybody would have the capital to pay that amount of money upfront to see if that thing was something that worked for them.”

“That also doesn’t account for the act of returning an item. When you’re disabled, getting something packaged, parceled up and off to the post office isn’t always something that’s accessible or even possible. And if it is, it’s not always something that people are able to do independently.”

“Another barrier that SpecialEffect tackle for the people they support is that they cover the cost of postage and will offer home collections when you are finished with your long-term loan. It takes that barrier away of having to be able to access a post office or a shop to be able to send the kit back.”

No charge for SpecialEffect support

“The key thing is that SpecialEffect’s services are entirely free for everybody seeking help. It’s covered by incredible fundraising; it’s covered by incredible supporters of the charity. So, people don’t have to face these barriers to do the things that they love to do. People can have a little escape at a time when, arguably, they may need it most. That was certainly the case for me.”

“I am so grateful for the help that SpecialEffect provided me. When I was first helped by SpecialEffect, I was honestly really lost. Gaming is my job, and my escape. And at a time when I needed to escape more than ever and have something that I was able to do for myself, I wasn’t able to do it. The impact, not just on my ability to work and engage with my friends and be on a level playing field with other people, but also the impact on my mental health has been absolutely phenomenal.”

“It’s a joy to be a SpecialEffect ambassador, and it’s a joy to be able to help raise money to help them help other people as well. Thank you so much, SpecialEffect, for lending me all this incredible equipment and helping me along with the process of finding out what works for me.”