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Késako, a workshop with the school Victor-Doré?

publié le 20 août 2015 à 08:59 par Catherine Claus   [ mis à jour le·26 oct. 2015 à 09:03 par Thomas Gaudy ]

I am Stéphanie Akré, president and cofounder of the NGO Ludociels for All. Our mission is to create educational and accessible video games for people in social exclusion. On November 17th, 2014, during the event 'Je vois Montréal' (I see Montréal), I committed myself to the name of Ludociels for All to encourage educational perseverance for handicapped youth (from 16 to 35 years old).

We furthered our goals when we partnered with the Recreational Community Centre in Côte-des-Neiges and the Neuronix Workshops, This happened thanks to a workshop centering around the creation of video games targeted at youth (16 to 35 years of age) who may live in isolating situations (they may not necessarily have any handicap, but are isolated from society by being unemployed, a new immigrant who doesn't speak much French, etc…). From this workshop, we have launched a new game, 'Blue Mountain', thanks to the help of the Intercultural Library of Côte-des-Neiges. Thomas Gaudy, our animator/ergonomist/creator of video games, has decided, thanks to his wonderful experience at this workshop, to continue the adventure by organizing another workshop with the school, Victor-Doré.

I'll explain what Victor-Doré is about in a few short sentences for those of you who don't know them. It's a specialized establishment for children from 4 to 13 years of age who show mobility deficiencies or organic disorders that may be associated with other deficiencies. The school celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2012 and can hold up to 190 students who all have at their disposal a multidisciplinary team of teachers, professionals, support staff and rehabilitation staff from the Marie Child Rehabilitation Centre. If you would like to learn more, check out their website: http://victor-dore.csdm.ca/
Photo Victor-Dore school Picture Victor-Dore school Picture Victor-Dore school
After a few email exchanges, Thomas and I were able to obtain a meeting with Marie (a remedial teacher) who is in charge of a class of students with profound handicaps. From that meeting, we were able to discuss our project to organize a workshop to create educational and accessible video games adapted to the needs of the children in her class. Marie was accompanied by Jacques (technician and IT specialist) and Jeanne (a representative of the school administration). Our project was well received and sparked a lot of interest. Marie admitted that she was worried that we would be disappointed in discovering the abilities of her "p'tits cocos" ('little ones', as she likes to affectionately call them). After explaining our goals by working with her recommendations and our ability to adapt our games to our targeted audience, she explained that there are needs that weren't met in adapted computer materials. She would like to use such materials in class, or at least make it available to parents who sometimes feel discouraged to continue interactions between their children and their family. We then agreed to a first visit fifteen days later, where we would be able to observe the interactions between the children in class, with computers at their disposal. When we left the school that day, our hearts and minds were full of gratitude towards this wonderful team who trusted us.

We returned two weeks later to Marie's class. It was 10:30am when we arrived at the school. As Jean-Paul Eid drew so well in his comic (http://victor-dore.csdm.ca/ecole/victor-dore-en-b-d/), 'The School of Invisible Children', is silent on the outside, but as soon as we entered the school and Marie brought us to her class, we started to hear the children. Some took part in their gym classes, others ran down the halls to join their class or towards different activities. We heard their laughing and exclamations mixed with the voices of the professionals in charge of their education, rehabilitation and well-being.

What struck Thomas in this school was the size of the hallways, the classrooms, the gymnasium… everything was built with wheelchairs and mobility devices in mind in order to allow the children to move about easily. Everything there is adapted to be accessible! Words that echo our mission at Ludociels for All.

Then, we met "them". Those for whom we created this workshop, the children. That morning, there were three present: a boy and two girls. They were coming back from the bathroom, two of them walked most of the morning, the third came back from a session with the physiotherapist.

The morning started with the 'hellos'. Marie introduced us and each child, one after the other, listened to the hello song "Bonjour mes amis, bonjour, bonjour, mes amis bonjour…" (Hello my friends, hello, hello, my friends hello…) by pressing on a big yellow button and then chose to whom they wanted to say hello by pressing on a representative picture of their classmates. Words, actions, gestures, signs, and looks accompanied each of the interactions between the teacher and her students.
Picture of computer Picture of a contactor
In her class, Marie is accompanied by Yvette who is part of the support staff. Her help is extremely valuable in order for Marie to teach, unhindered. Yvette helps the students into their chairs, searches for 'chewy' since the children can only bring things with their mouth (but must learn that not everything is edible or should be explored with their mouths), helps another to change chairs as hers was being adjusted and the she felt uncomfortable with the one she was borrowing in the meantime, etc…

The morning was followed by watering the plants for father's day, which was fast approaching. After looking at the pictogram that represented a watering can, the children used their buttons to grab the watering can and watched the water pour out. None of the children could talk, but they smiled, exclaimed, laughed, gestured, onomatopoeias, sounds, facial expressions, etc… It's like being a witness to a new language, and yet, they must also learn how to communicate and make themselves understood.

Then it was story time. Projected on a big screen like at the movies, were images accompanied by phrases and pictograms. Each section of the story is expressed by each child. Marie would read them a phrase and would show them the pictogram that corresponded to it, and the children would touch it, look at it, and talk about their experience. "Lola, the little bear collected flowers when she is on vacation", "look at the flower", "look at the pictogram with your eyes, touch it with your fingers, but don't scrunch it else you won't see it anymore, don't put it in your mouth, it's not one of your toys", "Do you smell how nicely flowers smell? Do you have it in your hand?", etc…

Finally, mealtime arrived too quickly. Yvette brought one of the young students their food a bit earlier to encourage them to eat. We bade the students and Marie good-bye, but we will see them again when they return back to school in September 2015 to experiment with them the games that we are creating for them. Thanks to that morning, full of emotion, we learned quite a lot, which will permit Thomas, our ergonomist and creator of video games to produce a custom-made game.

To be continued…

Stéphanie Akré.
Translation (french to english): Catherine Claus.

Note: all of the names of the staff at the school were changed out of respect and confidentiality.

Késako, a workshop on video game creation?

publié le 20 août 2015 à 08:51 par Catherine Claus   [ mis à jour le·26 oct. 2015 à 09:03 par Thomas Gaudy ]

All of our workshops are partnered with local organizations that welcome public youth (like community centers, tutoring learning centers, schools and organizations that are open to those with handicaps…). We would like to enhance the exceptional work these social organizations do as there aren't many people who actively participate in being resourceful and aiding this youth to grow. Our workshops essentially focuses on youth from 12 to 35 years of age as school dropouts or handicapped. The goal of our workshops is to heighten the awareness of the participating youth to jobs in the video game industry and to the competencies required to create a video game:

- On one side, we use video games as a motivation for students to stay in school: "I can see how the knowledge I learned in class can be applied to creating video games. I'm going to find a way to develop my technological skills and knowledge."

- On the other side, passive consumers will, after a workshop on the process of creating these games, become more and more interactive by participating together in the creation of a collective piece.

Our game creation workshops have a process that is explained over the course of five three-hour sessions.

First session: our animator, Thomas Gaudy, will present the different professions in the video game field and the general creation process. He explains the limits within the workshop to the participants. Finally, after a discussion, he collects some ideas from the participants to potentially use in a game.
  Workshop at the Recreational Community Centre in Côte-des-Neiges (fall 2014, Montréal)
Workshop at the Recreational Community Centre in Côte-des-Neiges (fall 2014, Montréal)

Second Session: The participants proceed to building various levels of the game and define the characters and their interactions. This stage is completed by hand sketches on paper.

Third Session: The participants create the first visuals of the game on the computer. They modify the design of the levels on the computer and record the sounds that will be integrated in the game. They must be inventive to create the sounds in their game: for example, the sound of a bird flying was created thanks to a recording of a piece of paper to which our aspiring sound designers added special sound effects! Or else, when the avatar climbs, the sound was obtained by rubbing two glasses against the table… These sounds were created for "Blue Mountain", a game created at a workshop in partner with the Recreational Community Centre of Côte-des-Neiges, in Montréal.

Fourth Session: In addition to continuing their work on the designs and sounds of the game, the participating youth proceed to adjusting the levels in the game.

Fifth Session: This is a particularly important stage to make the game fun to play and a proud achievement to present to friends, family and the public at large: the research of bugs! Then our creator, Thomas Gaudy, helps the youth to correct the last issues in the game.

The work on the programming vision process was accomplished by our internal programmer, Thomas Gaudy. The amount of time put into programming a game equals about a hundred hours of work, hot chocolate (with base of almond milk), overtime hours to the wee hours of the night, from the cries of frustration to joy when the bugs and problems are finally resolved!!! In a nutshell, all of the MAGIC behind the creation of a video game ;).

Once the game is finished, the participants are invited to try it out during a social event. Snack at hand, they can discuss their experience and try their first run-through of the game. The students also present their game to the organization that permitted them to have this experience while explaining (in their words) the stages of game creation and enjoying the happiness they see in those who play their game.
 
Event organized at the Recreational Community Centre of Côte-des-Neiges once the game was finished (Fall 2014, Montréal)

Then it's finally time to value the designed piece of work. The game is presented in exhibitions to the public at large. We choose places that are as varied as the museums: Packman Exhibition 2008 at the musée des Arts et métiers (Museum of Arts and Trades) in Paris for the game "The Search for Prisoners" or at the Cité des sciences et des métiers de l'industrie (the Science and Industrial Careers Project) in Paris for the game "Blind Zombies World Saga" in 2014, or in libraries and cultural centres.

Keep an eye and ear out for our upcoming events: Montréal Digital Spring and the Eurêka Festival at the Montréal Science Centre for the game "Blue Mountain". Stay in-tuned to our infoletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Stéphanie Akré.
Translation (french to english): Catherine Claus.

Késako, an accessible technology?

publié le 20 août 2015 à 08:34 par Catherine Claus   [ mis à jour le·26 oct. 2015 à 09:03 par Thomas Gaudy ]

Two recent events inspired me to write this article. First off, this past December 3rd was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (a fixed date since 1992, created by the United Nations). This year, the theme was "Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology". Then there was this wonderful news in accessible media: AMI (Accessible Media Inc) will start a French TV station, AMI-télé, specialized for persons with disabilities starting on December 16th!

 
 

I think these are two good examples on the growing field of accessible technologies available to persons with disabilities.

For those with autism, certain technologies will permit them to express new ways to communicate their wants and needs. Or else, with the development of mobile technology (tablets, smart phones, etc), those with an intellectual disability have become more able to live autonomously, take part in the work force, or to travel autonomously in the community, etc.

We can even refer to the prototypes of smart vehicles that was presented a few weeks ago that offer new ways for the blind to travel.

Despite these awesome initiatives in technologies that increase the possibilities of persons with disabilities' social participation, there is still a lot we can do to make them more reachable.

The major impediment persons with disabilities face in regards to accessible technology is the cost associated with keeping software up to date with rapid technological growth. Even though these tools can have an important impact on improving their quality of life, many do not have the budget required to access the technology they need.

Something as simple as a building without ramps can prohibit those with limited mobility, the absence of touchscreens or alternative mouse devices limit access to public computers for those with motor disabilities.

Even though the technological evolution has made more and more multimedia information available to the masses, few developers create technology for those with disabilities in mind.

This means that writing becomes a privilege, as the principal mode of communication (websites, emails, social networks, etc) or not realize the standards for web accessibility (using good contrasts such as black on white or white on black, font size, displaying fewer pictures, simplifying menu structures, etc) during the conception of websites. Furthermore, I invite you to comment on how we're doing so we can further increase the accessibility of our website. You can write to us at: info@ludocielspourtous.org or call us at (514)508-5694.

  

You can visit the very accessible site, AMI (English only), to learn more about the types of accessibilities. Accessible Media Inc. is a non-profit multimedia company, based out of Montréal, that propose broadcasting services such as AMI-tv and AMI-audio (both in English). These medias are available to more than five million people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, reduced mobility or incapable of reading printed text. The organization took part of the development of a new French TV station, AMI-télé, accessible December 16th for persons with disabilities. There is a French website www.AMItélé.ca that is still under construction.

What will make this station stand out from others is that this station will have a complete and clear video description, meaning that there will be a narrative description integrated into each of their programs. AMI-télé will offer general programs like TV series, movies, children's shows, and public affairs. In the spring of next year, original programs will be offered. The CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) agreed on requiring the distribution of AMI-télé (for their exceptional contribution in achieving the Canadian broadcasting laws' objectives) as a part of cable and satellite companies' basic offered services to their subscribers. The leaders at AMI-télé are Mr. David Errington, president and head of the Accessibility Media Management and Mr. Philippe Lapointe, vice president of AMI-télé's scheduled programming and production. Additionally, to quote Mr. Lapointe: "For people with low or no visual capacity, television is an essential informational tool and a privileged source of entertainment. In this sense, AMI-Télé becomes an important way for them to be included, for them and their family."

Finally, it takes very little to commit to the route of accessibility: conscienciously including people with handicaps in new technologies and slowly change the way we think to encourage the adaption of the possibilities of universal accessibility. It's the duty of each and every one of us.

Stéphanie Akré.
Translation (french to english): Catherine Claus.

Sources: Informational bulletin from RAAMM
Article by Marie-Josée Roy, published in 2014, November 27th, in the Huffington Post, Québec
Article by Dany Lussier-Desrochers and Martin Caouette, published in 2014, December 3rd on the debates page of the Presse (professors in Psycho-Education at the University of Québec at Trois-Rivières, respectively, the General Director and the Director of Knowledge Transfer from the Sharing Centre of Expertise in Technological Intervention.

Késako, bartering and trading?

publié le 18 août 2015 à 10:44 par Catherine Claus   [ mis à jour le·26 oct. 2015 à 09:04 par Thomas Gaudy ]

I participated in an activity organized by SOCENV (la société environmentale de Côte-des-Neiges; the environmental society of Côte-des-Neiges) for a bartering trade event (without a monetary exchange). It just so happened that the day fell on infamous "Black Friday"… What better way to start downsizing, the willful simplicity and sustainable community initiatives fighting against isolation and poverty.

Personally, I'd like to share my "rule of the year": if I don't use an object for over a year, I must decide what to do with it, while trying to apply another rule dear to me, "the three R's": Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. With these rules in mind, I collected jewelry that I no longer wear, old hats and scarves, two or three thrillers that I've read and no longer wanted to keep on my bookshelf and left to go to SOCENV's meeting.

The activity was expected to last the afternoon. I was able to trade my jewelry and winter clothing for a book, two pairs of new socks, a bike's breaks, a bag that can be attached to the back of a bike and two front and back reflectors to increase bike ride safety. We can never be too prudent when riding a bike in Montréal!

It was a new experience to barter with people with whom I wanted to make exchanges. In the end, it went quite well, we decided to count up an approximate value of our objects and we proceeded with the transaction. I had a lot of fun and at the same time happy to leave with new and useful things and to offer a new life to my things rather than throwing them out!

  

Over the course of the afternoon, Charles Mercier, the director of SOCENV presented an excellent presentation on the Québec Accorderies Network (réseau d'accorderies au Québec).

This wasn't the first time that I heard of a services exchange system between people who do not exchange money, but I was seduced by this particular initiative! Since 2002, there exists in Québec about a dozen such accorderie networks. They are based on a service exchange system between people and promotes cooperation.

There are three in the Montréal region: Northern Montréal, Mercier-Hochelaga-M. and Longueil. It is advised to participate in an info meeting to fully understand how it works and to be ready to fully jump into it. As a matter of fact, the system functions on sharing, mutual aid and trust!

The cherry on top of it all, this accorderie system is also available in France! I love the internet when it acts as a bridge between two willful spirits aimed at the same goal: leaving the sterile consumption system to become "Consum'actors-consum'actresses".

I encourage you to check out Québec Accorderies and Accorderies of France's website. Who knows? Maybe you will have the desire to start your own accorderie in your own region…

Thanks again to SOCENV for proposing recreational and educational activities!!

Stéphanie Akré.
Translation (french to english): Catherine Claus.

Késako, an accessible educational video game?

publié le 18 août 2015 à 09:42 par Catherine Claus   [ mis à jour le·26 oct. 2015 à 09:03 par Thomas Gaudy ]

The concept of "Accessible Educational Video Games" needs to be clarified. You are going to be familiar with this vocabulary soon enough… Let us guide you…


By "game" we mean the implementation of a cognitive activity or of a stimulating and pleasing instruction.

By "video game" we mean the support of the game more than its appearance.

A video game is a game that requires activities of computer science to support the digital medium (CD, DVD or downloadable since the development of the internet). The term "video" is used in reference to a visual aspect, a predominant factor in this type of medium. It is more convenient to talk about "digital games" since, for example, games for the blind are based on sounds.

By "Educational Video Games", we are connecting educational activities with a digital medium. Recent research (see notes on the bottom of the page) discusses the effectiveness of the process of learning the game and the students' happiness and contentment. In contrast to recreational video games, whose goals are basically to entertain targeted players, educational video games' goals are for the players to acquire knowledge in a fun way.

The centre de ressources et d'information sur le multimédia pour l'enseignement supérieur (Resource and Information Centre on Multimedia for Higher Education) (CERIMES, France) has dedicated a part of their activities to the research on educational video games or "Serious Games". For more information, visit www.jeux-serieux.fr (in French only).

By "accessible educational video games", we envision the availability of digital educational resources for a public that is often left out, due to particular problems, such as diverse handicaps or for those in unfavorable social-economic situations.

More specifically:
- people with a visual handicap cannot play most video games due to the inability to perceive messages communicated visually.
- many people with a motor handicap cannot play video games due to the complexity of use or the large number of commands required.

The media uses "Accessible" when they overcome these limitations in a satisfying way.
- Educational digital games for those with visual deficiencies are often tactile or sound games.
- Games for those with a hearing deficiency often resort to subtitles or to highlighting particular visual landmarks.
- Accessible games for those with a motor handicap generally greatly reduce the number of command buttons.
- For those with a cognitive handicap, accessible games offer a progression of level difficulties that are more adapt to an ease of learning.


Ludociels for all's objective is to cognitively and intellectually stimulate people with a physical or cognitive handicap through digital products (games) to be useful and beneficial for them.

Stéphanie Akré.
Translation (french to english): Catherine Claus.

To learn more about visual handicaps, to better understand the manner of adapting video games for the blind public, you can consult the book titled, "Conception de jeux vidéo sonores accessibles aux personnes aveugles" (Accessible Sound Video Game Conception for the Blind) by Thomas Gaudy, co-founder of Ludociels for all.

In particular, check out:
- The book "Serious Games: Mechanisms and Effects" by Ute Ritterfeld, Michael Cody and Peter Vorderer; Routledge, 2010. http://bit.ly/1nyfbtv
- The following literary review: "A Systematic Literature Review of Empirical Evidence on Computer Games and Serious Games" by Thomas M. Connollya, Elizabeth A. Boylea, Ewan MacArthura, Thomas Haineya, James M. Boyleb; University of the West of Scotland and University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, 2012. http://bit.ly/1ARctHT

Ludociels for All Toolbox… Késako?

publié le 28 juil. 2015 à 09:31 par stephanie Akre   [ mis à jour le·26 oct. 2015 à 09:04 par Thomas Gaudy ]

If you have any questions about who we are, what we do, ways to help, the Ludociels for All Toolbox tempts to answer all of your questions while bringing you information that could interest you on our activities.

Picture of question mark Picture of tool box

Here is a list of examples that we answer in our publications:
…Késako an educational and accessible video game?
Késako a Social Economic Organization?
Késako a "Ludociel"?
Késako a workshop on creating educational and accessible games?
Késako an ergonomic video game?…

Besides, what does Késako mean?

Mainly used in France and Belgium, this expression is used as a joke to ask or to announce an explanation for terminology that seems difficult.
You can send us questions in regards to our cause and our themes and we will try to respond to them on this platform. Come check out our site! Don't hesitate to let us know about your impressions. Contact us.
It's been a pleasure!

Stéphanie Akré.
Translation (french to english): Catherine Claus.

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