Get-hooked November 30, 2021
#Inclusive – Brandon Cole shares the positives and the negatives of the pandemic
In the second story of our series, “#Inclusive – Building Resilience post COVID-19 in the lives of people with disabilities”, we feature Brandon Cole, an award winning blind accessibility advocate and consultant in video games, working to establish the principle that the blind are gamers too.
The series is an initiative by NewzHook, marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) which is celebrated every year on 3 December.
Know Brandon Cole
Brandon: I am Brandon Cole, a totally blind video game accessibility consultant. I am primarily known for my work on The Last of Us Part 2, which I worked on for 3 years. My efforts, plus those of the team at Naughty Dog, helped make that game completely accessible even to the totally blind. I have also worked with other companies on their accessibility, including Jackbox and Twitch.
How did the pandemic affect people with disabilities?
Brandon: Strangely, there have been positives and negatives. On the positive side, the pandemic forced companies, (many of whom hated the idea pre-pandemic), to adopt work from home policies. This, of course, is something the disability community has always been asking for, as some disabled folks are much better able to work from their homes. Of course, some of these companies have started rolling back these policies, which is just wrong in my opinion, but I don’t think all of them are.
And then on the negative side, while I can only speak from my experience, I can say that it has absolutely affected my work. I have no doubt that, if the pandemic had never happened, I would have done a lot more traveling to development studios to speak with and work with developers on games. Sadly, the pandemic has put traveling on hold, and while I still have work, I can’t help but feel it’s less than it would have been.
Experience during the COVID-19 pandemic
Brandon: Honestly, see the second half of question above. My experience was far, far less travel, and remote consultation. It’s working for now, but I can’t help but hope things go back to the way they were, as I believe in-person work at studios has the potential to be far more effective.
Things that you would like to see in the post COVID-19 society
Brandon: I would like to see work at home programs staying on for the disabled, travel returning to its former glory so people like me can get back out there to conventions and studios to spread the accessibility word, and a more careful society as a result of the pandemic. That’s my ideal future right there.
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