At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2023, Sony introduced the Access Controller for the PlayStation 5, designed for players with disabilities with the help of accessibility experts. The project, known internally as "Project Leonardo," aimed to make gaming more accessible, offers extensive customization (with third-party switches or joysticks) that helps players more easily express themselves while playing. When Sony first started working on this project, their research noted that disabled controller users often found themselves going to “heroic lengths” to acclimate themselves. This discovery phase helped the team formulate concrete goals for the new accessible controller they wanted to create: 1. You had to be able to use it without picking it up, 2. It should have physically swappable buttons, and 3. It should be highly customizable. The available solution, which fulfills all the above criteria, is an extremely flexible controller, that “can change with you should your needs change.”
Pre-orders began in July, priced at $89.99, with shipping starting on December 6. Sony's Access Controller has been tested by gamers all over the world and has received positive feedback. Alvin Daniel, senior technical program manager at Sony, is optimistic about the impact that the controller can have for the disabled gaming community, and suggests that this new controller can also attract new audiences that might have been excluded from gaming before.
The Access Controller has undergone testing worldwide, with the goal of serving a wide range of gamers. Despite its limitations, Sony believes it will have a broad impact on the disabled gaming community and encourage game developers to prioritize accessibility.
The controller can be used on a table, offering a more comfortable gaming experience for some users. Sony's thoughtful design extends to accessible packaging, making it user-friendly for various disabilities.
Sony's effort in creating the Access Controller, along with Microsoft's work on adaptive controllers, deserves recognition for its positive impact on the disabled gaming community and the tech world's approach to accessibility.