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Sony staffer crafts custom PS4 gamepad for player with cerebral palsy

A PlayStation 4 owner in New Jersey who lives with cerebral palsy recently received a custom DualShock 4 gamepad that had been modified by a PlayStation employee to match the player's unique needs.

Last week a PlayStation 4 owner in New Jersey who lives with cerebral palsy, Peter Byrne, received a custom DualShock 4 gamepad that had been modified by a PlayStation employee to be more accessible and easy to use with Byrne's movement disorder.

Ensuring your game is accessible to a broad audience is tricky business -- we've published multiple blogs and features on the topic -- and this is another notable example, though in this case it was more of a problem with the PlayStation 4 controller than any specific games. 

Local outlet News 12 New Jersey reports Byrne had a hard time playing PlayStation 4 games because his left hand would repeatedly graze the controller's touchpad, disrupting his play. A few weeks ago he wrote an email to Sony outlining his concerns, and PlayStation's Alex Nawabi responded and told Byrne he would try to devise a solution on his own time.

According to a public Facebook post published by Byrne, Nawabi later told him the problem proved unsolvable but that Nawabi would be sending along a "goodie box" anyway. Last week that box arrived, and inside was a DualShock 4 controller (pictured) modified so that the touchpad was disabled and its functionality "rerouted" to a new button built into the backside of the gamepad.

Nawabi also included a letter (which you can read in the abovementioned Facebook post) that outlined how he had torn apart 3 controllers to build this modified version, voiding the warranty in the process, and requesting feedback on the modified controller that Nawabi could incorporate into a second version.

If Nawabi's effort strikes a chord, you might consider checking out game accessibility advocate Ian Hamilton's GDC 2014 talk about lessons learned from successfully (and not so successfully) designing games for disabled players.

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