Accessibility isn’t something that we tend to think of a lot when it comes to our devices. Those that don’t need these software extras typically have a limited understanding of how much those that do need them benefit from them. What’s more, most people breeze by them and never dive inside to see what options are available. Microsoft’s Xbox One console and Xbox Live service exist to bring all types of people together for games. That means treating those with hearing loss, vision issues and other users as first class citizens.
Luckily, through a set of settings and options, Microsoft does just that. Here’s how to turn on and use Xbox One’s accessibility controls and options.
Before We Begin
Before we begin enabling accessibility controls on the Xbox One take note of a few things. First, it’ll make the entire process a bit easier if you use the Xbox One Wireless Control to enable everything instead of the Kinect sensor for Xbox One. The New Xbox One Experience software update dropped support for Kinect hand-gestures so you won’t be able to use those. Instead, you’ll need to navigate with your voice if navigating with a controller isn’t an option.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’re signed into your Xbox Live profile.
Setting Up Accessibility Controls on Xbox One
Turn on your Xbox One console by pressing the Xbox logo on your controller or the Xbox logo on your console. Those with Kinect can simply say “Xbox On” if they’ve set-up the console’s Always Connected Mode.
Sign into your Xbox One console by navigating to the login menu on the left in the Guide with your joystick or by saying, signing in with your voice. The voice command is “Sign in..” and your profile name.
Controller: Press the glowing orb Xbox logo on your controller to instantly bring up a settings menu where you can change your accessibility settings.
Along the bottom of the notification you’ll notice options for enabling a narrator and magnifying what’s on your screen.
Press the View button to the left of the Xbox logo on your controller to open the Magnifier. Press the Menu button to the left of the Xbox One logo on your controller to start the Narrator.
You can go to the Settings app from the My Games & Apps area for more settings.
Select Ease of Access from the menu on the left side of your screen. It’s the last option available.
Kinect: Kinect users should simply say, “Xbox, go to Settings.”
Say “Xbox, Ease of Access” while every word on your screen is still green. If it turns to white, say “Xbox,” the say “Easy of Access” again.
Here are all the accessibility features available today.
Narrator reads everything to you that appears on your screen. Microsoft says that it’s best if those who take advantage of the feature use a keyboard with their Xbox One in addition to a controller. You can always turn the feature on if you have a Kinect by saying, “Xbox, turn on narrator.”
Magnifier allows you to zoom in on different items with your controller or a keyboard. Zooming in and Out is handled by the controller’s trigger buttons and the left joystick. Unfortunately, there’s no voice command for turning on Magnifier.
The console-wide Close Captioning switch allows for users to read what’s being said in their games and video instead of just relying on their hearing. Again, missing is a voice command to turn this on. All of the video apps that support streaming on Xbox One have individual buttons for enabling closed captioning should the video you’re watching support it.
High Contrast Mode ditches a lot of the gradients and coloring on the Xbox One’s interface in favor of brighter highlights and deeper backgrounds so that everything is easier to see. This can only be turned on from within the Settings app.
Lastly, there is Button Mapping for the Xbox One Wireless Controller. This feature allows you to change how the buttons, triggers, joysticks and directional pad works in games. It’s particularly useful if a game relies on a button combination that’s hard to reach or doesn’t feel comfortable.
Microsoft built-in keyboard controls for users that aren’t comfortable with picking up an Xbox One controller too. Also, definitely consider picking up an Xbox One Kinect if you think that having voice commands at your disposal might improve your experience with the console. The Microsoft Store sells the Kinect separately from the Xbox One for $150 or together with an Xbox One for $399.