Thinking about accessible DDR

Last class we played with DDR (and Guitar Hero but I’ll ask about that in another post). I’d like us to have a discussion of how an accessible version of DDR might work. For this discussion I want you to limit yourselves to DDR with prescribed steps. That is, just like the game we saw in class. You need to press the correct pad at just the right time.  Let’s discuss ways that could work for people who are blind.

Some ideas to get you started:

  1. How about 4 speaker stereo sound with something (speech, beeps, ?) coming from the corresponding speaker?
  2. How about speech instructions that are some fixed distance ahead in time?
  3. How about a training mode that is (say) slowed down with steps described and a separate play mode without speech?
  4. Other ideas?

14 Responses to “Thinking about accessible DDR”

  1. SaraW Says:

    It might be easier if the pad was somehow more tactile (possibly three-dimensional?), so that the players could be assured that they’re pressing the right part of the pad by feeling the elevated shapes. Speech instructions could be good also, but not too far ahead of time or it would get confusing. If at all possible, adjustable speech settings might be idea, so the individual using the game could change the rate of speech and timing to their own ability level.

  2. ChristyS Says:

    When I was doing biology homework an idea came to me. What if we had a stand in front of the pad( a replacement of the screen - sort of ) that had space for them to put their hands- one on top of the other- on it. Then they would get feed back on what foot to move through bumps on the stand that poke up first on the left hand( your warning) and then on the right hand (when you are supposed to do the step). There would be an up down and side to side bump they would be able to feel and anticipate through there hands instead of their eyes. I don’t know if this would work but I think that it might be worth investigating.

  3. RhiannonL Says:

    The idea I have is more for more people like Shane and Derek, who have limited vision. I noticed in the original game there was a lot of background colors and stuff. Instead of having all of that, just have a blank background, and then have larger arrows with contrasting colors. The screen could be white, and then use black, red, green, and blue as the arrow colors. Any other vastly different colors would also work. After they finished the game, the score could be posted large in the middle, instead of the corner. Then the speaker could say the score and what level they had reached.
    Also, for completely blind, I think the speach thing is a good idea. You would just have to time it right so they wouldn’t hit to early or get confused. Maybe say the steps, and then right before they were supposed to step, have a beep letting them know to step on it then. It would be interesting to see if these ideas would work. They would definitely need some tweeking.

  4. Gary Says:

    SaraW that is a good idea. We need some texture that is easy to feel to indicate where to press.

    ChirstyS, I really like your tactile display idea. I’ve made one (for Braille) using small vibrator motors like the ones used in pages and cell phones. We might be able to use gentle vibration to indicate that a step is coming and a strong vibration to indicate the time. If you (or someone else) would like to try this at Maze day I’d be happy to build a display mock up that we could easily control as a test.

    RhannonL, a low-vision version of DDR is great! Using our projectors and a nice high-contrast display I bet lots more kids could participate.

  5. LizzyR Says:

    I was thinking along the lines of sounds signs as well, but maybe there could be a corresponding sound (as opposed to spoken directions) to each button or spot on the pad. This would also help with memory skills since they would have to remember which sound goes with which button. The sounds would have to come a certain amount of time ahead, which as Sara already stated, could get confusing. But, I think this may be able to work with some trial and error.

  6. ShaneD Says:

    Hi. This is Shane Dittmar. I agree that it would become vastly confusing to have the steps announced ahead of time. I, personally, like the idea of (a) for low vision, a High Contrast version of DDR, and (b) for the Blind, allow a training mode where the steps are announced with the music, and then have a version with no music to test memory.

    I also have to admit that I was shocked that you guys remembered me. (Just kidding)

  7. BrennaC Says:

    I think it would be also interesting to see if we could try some sensory adaptation to the DDR. For example, if the square in which is meant to be stepped on vibrates and it will vibrate for a small period of time shortly before the step and at the exact moment the player is suppose to hit the pad it will vibrate harder. I figure this form of notification would be easier to understand with the music because it will not cause more conversion by creating noise along with the other game audio. At the same time the memory version could be more challenging and fun to play. I think we should incorporate for the blind more senses than just hearing and this will create a more well rounded game able to be played by possibly more people.

  8. BrennaC Says:

    Ok for whatever reason I can not post a comment on the generalized DDR board so I will comment here. I think a non directed game of DDR would be very cool. I think all types of kids could enjoy this game. I think blind kids would like it because they do not have to listen to music and commands at the same time. Kids with less ability to move could enjoy playing and trying to get the highest score they can and same goes for those who can not think at a high enough level to comprehend the DDR interface as it is now. We could create a game that gives points for just moving with the beat. Or one that the player receives a high score if their combinations are original. Also to incorporate physical activity, the fast the player does the dance moves the more points they get. These are just a few ideas, but I think if we can create any game to help more people play it would be wonderful :)

  9. BrennaK Says:

    Would there be a way for children restricted to a wheelchair to play by having a sort of head support with pads on different sides? They could press their heads against the appropriate pad, which would be like the foot pads on DDR…

  10. AlishaH Says:

    I like Sara’s idea, and I believe we could build on that. For the voice part I think we could have levels. For beginners (littler children who have just learned their directions), we could get a voice to say “right” or “left” or “up” so that the younger kids can practice their directions at the same time. For kids a bit older we could give them sound patterns like maybe animal sounds associated with each arrow and that way they can get a feel for what animals sound like. For the advanced level, probably teenage kids, the drum sounds with different notes would be cool. Also, as for the time interval in between the voice/sound effect, it would be cool if the child gets to select the interval of time. We could have 3 different intervals to make it easy to hard. When the kids start out with the game, they will probably find it hard and have to work on the reaction timing to get it right. Therefore, if they know ahead of time what their timing is supposed to be, it might help them to hit the arrows right on target. This could be sort of a training mode as well.

  11. ChaseJ Says:

    I was curious if we could somehow blend DDR with Guitar Hero to make a “Dance Hero” with instrument sounds. Instead of making them follow directions given by voices ahead of time, maybe if we assigned a certain instrument to a certain square, they must play the instrument in the right part by stepping on the tactile pad. That way, it would be fun and interesting for those who are not visually impaired too; this way, it would promote activity with friends at social gatherings, etc.

  12. ShaneD Says:

    I have a couple of comments:

    BrennaC: As far as having it vibrate, to notice that it was vibrating, you would have to be touching it, meaning that the computer would register a hit. So wouldn’t doing that screw up the player’s score quite a bit?

    The point is to get on and off of each square as fast as possible, correct?

    BrennaK: Wouldn’t you get a head ache if you had to do that for any extended length of time? Still, though. Assuming that wasn’t a problem, what would work.

    ChaseJ: That sounds fun. I seem to remember seeing that somewhere else (the idea on this blog).

    That’s all for now.

  13. Gary Says:


    Maybe we’d have the vibration on your hands instead of your feet. So you hold on to some bars and get the step signals there.

    I think the best players of DDR don’t look at the screen. They have memorized the moves. How could we help you memorize the steps?

  14. Gary Says:


    Yes, let’s think about how a person restricted to using a couple of switches could play. I like that.

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