A ‘tinkering’ father builds a custom-made Nintendo controller for his disabled daughter, 9, using £110 of spare parts from eBay.

Ava has a condition that means she can’t use ‘fiddly game controllers’, but just like any modern child she loves playing games and watching YouTubers.

Rory Steel, a former IT teacher and head of the Digital Jersey Academy, decided to create a custom controller for his daughter to allow her to join in the fun.  

A video of Ava laughing and smiling as she plays the Zelda game using her new controller for the first time has had tens of thousands of views on Twitter. 

Mr Steel created it in a ‘weekend of tinkering and heavy soldering’ that involved ‘lots of wires’ and mapping buttons between different gaming controllers.  

He brought a Microsoft Adaptive Controller, designed to allow XBox users with additional needs to play games, plus other parts from eBay – spending about £110. 

Unfortunately her game of choice – Zelda: Breath of the Wild – is only available on the Nintendo Switch – and Nintendo don’t have an ‘adaptive controller’.

It is a game her friends play and one she has watched her favourite YouTuber, DanTDM has played on his channel.

This meant Mr Steel had to spend a weekend ‘soldering and sorting wires’ to make create a custom controller off the back of the Microsoft device.  

‘I’m not sure who enjoyed the project most’, he said. 

Corban, Ava's five year old brother, has the same condition as Ava and so needs the larger joysticks and big buttons of the customer controller in order to play the game

Corban, Ava’s five year old brother, has the same condition as Ava and so needs the larger joysticks and big buttons of the customer controller in order to play the game

While Ava has been the centre of attention due to the video on Twitter, Mr Steel said her five-year-old brother Corban was ‘straight in after her’ on the controller.

Corban has the same condition as Ava and so needs the larger joysticks and big buttons of the customer controller in order to play the game. 

‘The Microsoft team have been great and offered loads of great advice and Logitech are keen to help version 2.0’, he said. 

READ  Breast cancer may be detected by blood test five years before clinical signs show

Head of the Microsoft XBox programme, Phil Spencer said in a retweet of the video shared by Mr Steel: ‘Incredible. And what a smile.’ 

Mr Steel said he now plans to create a walkthrough of how he did it to help other people in need of an accessible controller for the Switch.

He brought a Microsoft Adaptive Controller, designed to allow XBox users with additional needs to play games, plus other parts from eBay - spending about £100

He brought a Microsoft Adaptive Controller, designed to allow XBox users with additional needs to play games, plus other parts from eBay – spending about £100

Mr Steel said he now plans to create a walkthrough of how he did it to help other people in need of an accessible controller for the Switch.

Mr Steel said he now plans to create a walkthrough of how he did it to help other people in need of an accessible controller for the Switch.

He was inspired to create the controller after his daughter watched him play the Switch and seeing her want to join in but not being able to.

The first task in creating the controller, built around an old screw box, was to ensure Ava could choose which buttons were useful in various locations on the box.

‘We’ve had to make sure we map all the buttons to the XBox controller so we can move around’, he said.

In a future version he plans to move some of the buttons around and create a more comfortable and easier to use design for Ava after watching her play with it.

She has a condition called Heritary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) which limits her fine motor controls and her ability to use normal gaming remotes. 

HSP refers to a group of inherited disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and stiffness of the legs. It also affects Ava’s ability to speak.

Mr Steel said the hardest part of adapting the controller for the Nintendo Switch was finding joysticks to sit on top of the box that were compatible.  

This mean Mr Steel had to spend a weekend 'soldering and sorting wires' to make create a custom controller off the back of the Microsoft device

This mean Mr Steel had to spend a weekend ‘soldering and sorting wires’ to make create a custom controller off the back of the Microsoft device

‘There are many online but at quite a high price, I wanted to create a bespoke affordable solution’, he said. 

This isn’t his first ‘tinkering’ project, the last time he picked up his soldering iron was to create a ‘self watering plant that tweets it’s status.’ 

In order to build this controller he had to search for components, work out how to link different console devices and create something usable by his daughter.

‘I used an old screw box and just wired all the parts to the Xbox adaptive controller, it just took a lot of patience as there were a significant amount of wires.’

Mr Steel says there were 'a lot of wires' to sort out as well as soldering and boxes to stick together in order to create the controller

Mr Steel says there were ‘a lot of wires’ to sort out as well as soldering and boxes to stick together in order to create the controller

In order to build this controller he had to search for components, work out how to link different console devices and create something usable by his daughter

In order to build this controller he had to search for components, work out how to link different console devices and create something usable by his daughter

His highlight was ‘allowing Ava and her brother, Corban, who has the same condition, to be able to play like their friends’.

He said this was particularly important as it allows them to play games that would have been impossible for before due to the fiddly nature of the controllers. 

Maybe not just with her friends either as he said he is a self confessed Zelda fan. 

‘Zelda Ocarina of Time was an obsession. I’ve always been a gamer and its great to be able to share that with my children.’

The next version of the controller will be more intuitive and a better design, says Mr Steel. He said Logitech have even offered to help with its creation

The next version of the controller will be more intuitive and a better design, says Mr Steel. He said Logitech have even offered to help with its creation

His next project will be to create a second version of this controller, one that is more stable as this is ‘only a prototype and very fragile’.  

He said a lot of the ability to create the controller was down to Microsoft’s efforts in creating its own Adaptive Controller and making it compatible. 

‘Accessibility isn’t profitable but it is necessary’, Mr Steel said.

‘I, and all families like us thank you for your efforts. Keep up the good work. These moments are what makes me believe society is moving in the right direction despite the news.’

WHAT IS HEREDITARY SPASTIC PARAPLEGIA? 

Hereditary spastic paraplegia is a general term for a group of rare inherited disorders.

They cause weakness and stiffness in the leg muscles and symptoms gradually get worse over time.

The number of people with the condition are estimated at between from 1 in 11,000 people to 1 in 77,000.

About 90 per cent of people have the ‘pure’ form of the condition. 

The main symptoms of pure hereditary spastic paraplegia are: 

  • a gradual weakness in the legs 
  • increased muscle tone and stiffness 
  • problems peeing – such as an urgent need to pee, even when the bladder is not full 
  • a lack of sensation in the feet   

The other 10 per cent will have the complex form of the condition. The symptoms include the above as well as:

  • nerve damage in the feet or other extremities 
  • epilepsy 
  • problems with balance, co-ordination and speech 
  • eye problems – such as damage to the retina and damage to the optic nerve
  • dementia ichthyosis – a condition that causes widespread and persistent thick, dry “fish-scale” skin 
  • learning and developmental problems 
  • hearing loss 
  • speech, breathing or swallowing problems 

Source: NHS 





READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here