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The game industry is gradually evolving to cater to other players with disabilities. That includes those who are experiencing hearing impairments or deafness. Forza Horizon 5 is one of the games supporting this change by including sign language support in its update today, March 1, 2022.
The plan started to gain its realization with the help of a London-based teacher, Cameron Akitt, who helps deaf/hard-of-hearing young children in a hospital-based school. Akitt was invited by Xbox Game Studios developer Playground Games and Xbox as a consultant in an effort to incorporate sign language support into Forza Horizon 5 during its early development.
According to Akitt, he grew up suffering from hard of hearing, but it didn’t stop him from playing video games. With limited ability to hear, the subtitles aid him whenever playing his favorite games. Akitt, however, knows that reading long texts during such instances can be challenging for those who are totally deaf.
“For them, it’s a really tiring experience, not being able to access your first language,” said Akitt. “We should be able to access the same story beats and narrative components. Otherwise, we’re only getting half the picture and not getting the full experience. Including sign language is about enabling more deaf and hard of hearing people to have ownership over their gaming experience.”
With the joint effort of Akitt, Playground Games, Xbox, and actors from the deaf and hard of hearing community, the free, in-game update is finally being released. It consists of American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) support for its in-game cinematics, allowing hard of hearing/deaf individuals to focus and enjoy the game graphics and gameplay more instead of taking time reading captions. In this update, the actors will sign in parts of the story between driving, including jumping into challenges, getting ready for a race, meeting other players, and racing across Mexico while planes fly overhead.