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17 July 2019

 Minecraft, the block-building computer game, remains one of the most popular video game titles of all time. Despite the game recently celebrating its 10th birthday, it continues to draw a crowd with an estimated 91 million active users continuing to enjoy the interaction with blocks, zombies and creepers as of March 2019. While the game already has a global following, it may see growth among disabled gamers due to recent improvements to the Java edition of the game.

Minecraft screenshot featuring a person walking along a beach with captions

In its
recent 1.14.0 major update known as Village and Pillage the first bullet point
states that there are “lots of accessibility improvements!” The Release
Notes
provide more specific detail, outlining the accessibity improvements
as:

  • There’s a new Accessibility menu which provides a useful place for all of our accessibility features to be toggled
  • When the narrator is turned on, buttons will be narrated on focus
  • Most screens allow tab and shift+tab navigation through buttons, edit boxes and other UI elements
  • Most lists allow up/down arrow keys to navigate through them
  • We’ve added a new option for turning up the background of all transparent text elements, which should help make them more readable for some people
Minecraft accessibility menu screenshot

With the help of player SuperkidsST I was able to try out the use of Narrator in Windows 10 and could successfully move around the buttons and read out text. The other accessibility features appear to work well too. The inclusion of the new menu panel made it much easier to locate the features and quickly toggle between them.

Given the age of the Minecraft Java edition, it’s great to see Microsoft continuing to improve the accessibility of the game. Special thanks to SuperkidsST for helping me to see the accessibility features in action.

The Centre for Accessibility is a joint project by Media on Mars, DADAA and Dr Scott Hollier and is funded by the Department of Communities, Disability Services.

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