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SpecialEffect News

04 Jul 2013

Here's Ray: limited movement, maximum fun

OK, so there we were at a college in Dorset a while ago helping an amazing disabled teenager called Jacob to master the basics of FIFA. At the end of the visit, Jacob's occupational therapist says "Oh, while you're here, you couldn't just quickly meet Ray could you? He's a really keen gamer but he can't play any more." 

Turns out Ray has spinal muscular atrophy and has very little movement. He'd just seen what we'd achieved with Jacob, and when we set the date for a return visit to see him, his face lit up. "All my Christmases have come at once!"

It seems like Call of Duty and FIFA 13 are top of the playing wishlist for many of the people we're seeing at the moment, and Ray was desperate to play them as well. So after an intense session working with his abilities and trying a hatful of different access strategies, we settled on a setup that included two switches on his PlayStation joypad, two in his palms and two headswitches on his wheelchair headrest. It was a hit. 

"On a scale of one to ten," said the therapist as Ray happily swerved past a defender to bury the ball in the back of the net, "how happy are you?"

"Eleven!"

For Ray this means much more than simply having fun. His disability means that he's incredibly limited in doing any sort of activity, let alone one that gives such a sense of achievement. But the benefits aren't just personal - while he was playing, an off-duty member of staff jumped at the opportunity to pit his gaming skills against Ray. I'm sure he's just the first of many new friends, offline and online, that the gift of gaming will give to Ray. 

Below: Ray v Staff - battling it out on Call of Duty

Below: Tools of the trade -  trialling some palm-mounted ultralight switches using velcro pads and wriststraps


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