Module 9: Interactive Fiction/Twine Workshop
9.5 Accommodation Simulation
What is accommodation? Who gets accommodated? Who does the accommodating? How is self-accommodation distinct from institutional accommodation? Are these practices and processes themselves accessible?
“Accommodation” is a common term connected to disability, and while it has a relationship to ‘access,’ it is a distinct—and narrower—concept. One of the ways to frame this distinction is in terms of timeline: accessible spaces, classrooms, and events anticipate the presence of disabled users and incorporate accessibility into their design (with ramps, captions, etc.). In contrast, accommodation is something that a disabled person requests, and is added to the spaces (physical or digital) later—it was not built into the design itself. Accommodations can create access, but the process of having to apply for formal accommodations is also fraught with barriers and often limits the kinds of access that are created.
Module 8 looked at accessibility in videogames and how organizations like AbleGamers and SpecialEffect create modifications and adaptive controllers to accommodate disabled players. These organizations are examples of accommodation in gaming, as the core structure of videogame play is often not accessible – changes and modifications must be made to allow more players to be able to access and play these games. In contrast, a critical play design method takes accessibility into consideration from the onset. This difference in design not only means that accessibility settings (such as screen reader support, high contrast modes, adjustable audio levels, customizable controls) are included in the game, but that this accessibility becomes central to game design – not accommodation that must be requested or, in many cases, fought for.
“Self-accommodation” is a term we can relate back to Kelly Fritsch and Aimie Hamraie’s (2019) article on crip technoscience, and “the hacks disabled people utilize for navigating and altering inaccessible worlds” (p. 3). When access is informally created by disabled people, they are self-accommodating. This labour is often invisible. Disabled gamers who create and adapt a standard controller design by modifying it are self-accommodating so that they can use the otherwise inaccessible controller design to play a game. Disabled people and communities can be incredibly creative when it comes to self-accommodating. However, it is important to remember that self-accomodation does not replace the need for access.
Consider what it means that in gaming settings, people often have to self-accommodate, and that while the tools to do so may be available, this type of access is not a normative form of game or technology design. Also consider that accommodation and adaptive controllers for videogames often cost money, and how this can preclude some players and create another barrier to access
You may already be very familiar with the laborious process of accommodations. If you are not familiar this, the next activity will simulate this process.
First, navigate to the Toronto Metropolitan Academic Accommodation Support website: https://www.ryerson.ca/accommodations/. Using the information available on this website, answer the questions in the box below.
For this Pressbook we have designed an interactive Twine narrative about accommodation, disability, digital media, and higher education. “Accommodation Simulation” was created by Killjoy Games, a studio based in Toronto, ON, and founded by Emily Flynn-Jones. From their website, https://www.killjoygames.fun/:
“We are beautiful, marginalized and diverse folk making games for diverse audiences. We prioritize storytelling, representation and social engagement above technologies and use the right tools to tell the best tales.”
“Accommodation Simulation” explores the intersection of access, accommodation, and digital media in higher education. Please navigate to the link below and play through the game at least once. However, you are encouraged to play through the game multiple times in order to identify the different pathways and endings that are available to you.
Once you’ve played “Accommodation Simulation” once, consider the following questions: