On Friday, the UK-based charity SpecialEffect launched its first crowdfunding campaign, called "Playing With Your Eyes." Through this campaign, the organization hopes to purchase several components with which it hopes to create a specialized, eye-controlled gaming system. This, the organization explains, will be used by people with a wide range of disabilities.
"We set up, create, lend, and support the use of specialist game controllers from our library of equipment," reads the Gambitious page. "Everyone we work with is different. Some of the people we work with find it difficult or impossible to control parts of their body other than their eyes. In these instances, we use computers which are controlled by eye movements."
"The demand for this work is growing all the time, so we are asking
you to help SpecialEffect to meet this need and help us purchase this
very special piece of equipment, which will add an additional
eye-controlled gaming system to our library...By pledging and spreading the word to your friends and fellow gamers, we can help more people, more quickly together."
The system which SpecialEffect hopes to build will feature a 14'' Dell Alienware Laptop as its base, with a floor stand, specialized desktop software, an infrared control module, a 21.5'' monitor with speakers, and the Alea CAM30NT Eye-Control Device. Altogether, this will cost SpecialEffect £5,950.00 (approximately $9,500.00 US).
Founded in 2007, SpecialEffect's story bears many parallels to that of AbleGamers. It's a charity with a very specific goal in mind: to allow disabled gamers the same entertainment enjoyed by able-bodied ones. According to Founder Dr. Mick Donegan, the organization was conceived out of necessity - after working for years in the field of disability and technology, Donegan noticed parents time and again informing him that it was difficult (if not outright impossible) for their children to access mainstream games and technology.
It hasn't been a simple task keeping SpecialEffect running, and securing funding hasn't always been easy - particularly since it works entirely pro bono.
"We don't charge for the work we do," explained Donegan. "Anyone, anywhere in the UK can ask us for help and, if appropriate, we'll buy and lend the necessary video games and access technology to try out for themselves."
"We've no need to play the numbers game when it comes to the quantity of people we support," he continued. "On the one hand, our website is giving information worldwide to many people who might need immediate specialist advice about accessible games and controllers. On the other, we have an increasing list of very severely disabled individuals who have complex problems that we know will take us years of support visits and equipment loans to solve. But that's why we're here. If the charity had been set up to support just one person, it would have been worthwhile."