PLATINUM2024

The AbleGamers Foundation Inc.

Combating Social Isolation Through Play

aka AbleGamers   |   KEARNEYSVILLE, WV   |  http://www.ablegamers.org

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Mission

Create opportunities that enable play in order to combat social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director / Founder

Mr. Mark C. Barlet

Senior Director of Development

Mr. Steven D. Spohn

Main address

179 E BURR BLVD, SUITE Q

KEARNEYSVILLE, WV 25430 USA

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EIN

30-0533750

NTEE code info

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (U01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Loneliness and social isolation are an epidemic among people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities lack social contact with friends, lack emotional "connections" with friends and society, and lack day-to-day participation in society. The lack of reliable transportation and the stigmas associated with having a disability means that people can find themselves living in near isolation. The consequent loneliness and isolation felt are sadly very common amongst the disabled community, with 50% of people with disabilities being lonely on any given day (Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness). Extreme feelings of loneliness and social isolation are proven to result in a decline in physical and mental health. Social isolation leads to changes on a cellular level that can create chronic inflammation, making lonely people more susceptible to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Community Outreach

Creating resources for players and caregivers that help players find their ideal games, game modes, and settings ensures that our player community has the best possible experiences on their chosen platform, no matter their favorite game genre.
We create and enable in-person and digital events to connect players and the community. Whether its one of our community game nights in the digital AbleGamers Player Community Discord or an in-person event at a convention or partner facility, our team is hosting and sponsoring events that connect players with other players and gaming to the local community.
AbleGamers Player Community is a digital community connecting players who have been helped via our Peer Counseling program. Our digital player community was created to facilitate game nights and friendships and provide a platform for players weve supported via our Peer Counseling program to discuss accessibility workarounds in their favorite games or tips on setting up assistive technology.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

Our Peer Counseling Program serves hundreds of individuals with disabilities each year. Our Peer Counseling team is comprised of individuals with disabilities and occupational professionals working together to identify and address accessibility challenges. Peer Counselors get to know each individual to better understand their unique needs, identify accessibility hurdles, and provide resources and support to facilitate play and engagement in community spaces around gaming.

AbleGamers also partners with hospitals and rehabilitation centers to reach many more people and provide them with a nearby location to assist in setup to enter the world of gaming. Partner sites are Powered by AbleGamers through initial and ongoing support and training for staff and the donation of specialized controllers and other devices.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

At AbleGamers, our Peer Counselors sometimes encounter barriers to play that cannot be addressed by current commercially available products or engineering solutions. Sometimes, this is because current technology is too inflexible or expensive for us to enable play. In other cases, the technology simply does not exist to address the needs of our players, meaning they miss out on the experience of playing and connecting with friends and family.

The AbleGamers Engineering Research program prototypes and creates new controllers and devices, offering unique customized solutions for our players.

Sometimes our Peer Counselors encounter barriers to play that current technology and options cannot meet. In these cases, we work with industry partners, makers, and research institutions to innovate new technology that can solve these barriers for a wide range of people.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

People with disabilities face monumental challenges when games are not accessible. These hurdles include mastering standard control schemes, navigating limited or absent support for accessibility software/hardware, and the absence of customizable settings.

Our services encompass player panels, usability testing, focus groups, evaluations, tandem research, and surveys. Our extensive player panel database is invaluable for steering the next generation of video games. We work hand in hand with gamers with disabilities to grasp their needs, preferences, and challenges. Our User Research team collaborates with diverse organizations, including museums and game studios, to identify areas for improvement, thereby creating more accessible experiences for all.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

While we can address many controller issues by helping the player get the controller setup they need, hardware-related issues are just the start.

AbleGamers Professional Development works closely with game developers, providing education and insight into the needs of players with disabilities and providing them with proven approaches to accessible game design using our Accessible Player Experiences (APX) design patterns. Our APX patterns are an approach to accessible game design that draws directly from research, insights, and experiences of players with disabilities. Using player research as a basis for APX makes it an approach that keeps both player needs and the goal of player experience front and center.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Hearne Leadership Award 2012

American Association for People with Disabilities

da Vinci Awards 2013

National MS Society, Michigan Chapter

Leo "People's Choice" Award 2013

National MS Society, Michigan Chapter

Top Charity of the Year 2021

thegameHERS-Logitech G

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants counseled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Adolescents, Children, Preteens

Related Program

Peer Counseling

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Numbers do not include those served at our partner sites, the thousands helped online via our knowledge base or the hundreds of thousands enjoying video games AbleGamers helped make accessible.

Number of research studies conducted

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, People with disabilities

Related Program

User Research

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Understanding the needs of players with disabilities is key to creating a more accessible world. In 2023 our team was involved in research, development, and user testing of multiple adaptive devices.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, People with disabilities

Related Program

Community Outreach

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our community outreach is driven by our volunteers. We cannot create the inclusive communities we want without the people to create those safe spaces.

Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Professional Development

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Training and certifying industry professionals in Accessible Player Experiences (APX) giving them the knowledge to make their games as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.

Number of individuals connected with vendors seeking feedback from people with disabilities.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, People with disabilities

Related Program

User Research

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our Player Panel is the largest group of its kind. These players lend their unique perspective to design and development that has led to change in the industry.

Total dollar amount of scholarship awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Professional Development

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Launched in 2020, our Developers Promoting Accessibility & Diversity Initiative assists in cultivating a more inclusive gaming industry by granting free access to our APX course.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Gaming possesses the unique power to connect people beyond physical boundaries, providing a channel for social interaction. For people with disabilities, video games can serve as more than just a form of entertainment video games can be a lifeline, a tool for connection, and a means of self-expression. The world of video games can provide a space where physical limitations do not define one's ability to participate, succeed, or connect with others.

AbleGamers utilizes the power of video games and play to combat social isolation and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities with recreation and rehabilitation. Video gaming allows people with disabilities to explore amazing worlds and experiences and develop relationships that may otherwise be difficult because of a disability. These experiences help to increase and maintain mental and emotional health that ultimately enhances the overall quality of life.

AbleGamers spearheaded the movement of game accessibility. We have worked with some of the largest game studios to make their games more accessible during the design process. We have worked to make the hardware that bridges the gap between a person with disabilities and the online worlds games create.
Our strategy is to deliver our mission through the following five pillars:
1. Peer Counseling
Our Peer Counselors are trained individuals, many of whom are players with disabilities themselves, who provide one-on-one guidance to assess player needs to enable play. Our goal is for the Peer Counseling program to support our players with disabilities in how to play and how to use technology to increase independence and have a better quality of life.
The average controller costs $400 but can range upwards of $2,000. Often a solution is multiple technologies working together.
2. Community and Inclusion
The Community and Inclusion Team focuses its outreach efforts on supporting, improving, and cultivating opportunities that forge lifelong relationships. Our Community and Inclusion Specialists work directly with the industry and support community initiatives resulting in a more inclusive gaming community, creating safe spaces where players with disabilities have a voice.
3. User Research
Our User Research team and their Player Panels make gaming better for everyone, including people with disabilities, by discovering barriers due to equipment compatibility or physical limitations and then working to create solutions to facilitate accessible player experiences.
4. Engineering Research
Engineering Research creates assistive technologies that provide solutions to barriers to play, allowing people with disabilities to enter the gaming communities. Sometimes they are one-off solutions for one player, and other times, it's bringing new technology to market for everyone.
5. Professional Development
AbleGamers Professional Development works closely with game developers, providing education and insight into the needs of players with disabilities and instructing them in proven approaches to accessible game design using our Accessible Player Experiences (APX) design patterns. Our APX patterns are an approach to accessible game design that draws directly from research, insights, and experiences of players with disabilities. Using player research as a basis for APX makes it an approach that keeps both player needs and the goal of player experience front and center.

We have trained Peer Counselors who provide one-on-one guidance to assess player needs in order to enable play.
We provide grants to those who cannot afford the technology they need to game.

Through our Powered by AbleGamers program we partner with various organizations, including hospitals and rehabilitation centers to reach many more players and provide players with a nearby location to assist in setup to enter the world of gaming. Partner organizations are powered by AbleGamers through initial and ongoing support and training for staff on best practices in adaptive gaming and the donation of specialized controllers and other devices.

Our Engineering Research Team creates assistive technologies that provide solutions to play barriers, allowing people with disabilities to enter gaming communities.

Our User Researcher team and their Player Panels produce peer-reviewed studies that have led to change in the industry. AbleGamers Player Panel is the largest group of its kind. These players are empowered to lend their unique perspectives to game design and development.

AbleGamers provides accessible design training to game developers through Accessible Player Experience (APX) Practitioner Training.

We have changed the space for the better, and we will keep doing it for years to come.

Some of our proudest moments were the development of the Xbox Adaptive Controller alongside the passionate developers at Xbox and Microsoft and our work with Sony on the Access Controller. The AbleGamers Engineering Research Team will continue to create assistive technologies to provide solutions to play barriers to allow people with disabilities to enter gaming communities.

We were the first organization to do academic research on the needs and wants of players with disabilities. Our published research has informed decision-makers and steered the industry towards greater accessibility. Our Player Researchers along with their player panels will continue to lend their unique perspective to game design and development.

First launched in early 2016 as the Expansion Packs, the AbleGamers Powered by AbleGamers program partners with various organizations, including hospitals and rehabilitation centers to reach many more players and provide players with a nearby location to assist in setup to enter the world of gaming. Partner organizations are powered by AbleGamers through initial and ongoing support/training for staff on best practices in adaptive gaming and donation of specialized controllers and other devices. In 2023, AbleGamers granted more than $100,000 worth of equipment such as modified controllers and other devices, laptops and provided on-site training and support to partner sites. With the support of gamers and sponsors, AbleGamers aims to increase the number of Powered by AbleGamers sites.

Our goal for the Peer Counselor program is to not only support our players with disabilities in how to play but also how to use technology to increase independence and have a better quality of life.

By the end of 2023 we have trained more than 600 game developers from some of the largest game studios in the world through our APX training course, which helps designers create accessible experiences for players with disabilities. We will continue to train developers to apply our data-driven APX Design Patterns and promote a focus on accessibility early in the design cycle, learn to identify accessibility issues during the design cycle and implement solutions to fix them, equip them with the data they need to show accessibility is a worthwhile investment in their title and to understand the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and what it requires.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Financials

The AbleGamers Foundation Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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The AbleGamers Foundation Inc.

Board of directors
as of 01/26/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Mark Barlet

Cheryl Mitchell

The AbleGamers Foundation

Larry Goldberg

Yahoo!

Christopher Power

University of York, UK

Steve D Spohn

The AbleGamers Foundation

Mark Burgess

The AbleGamers Foundation

Kevin Wasielewski

CORSAIR

Nika Nour

IGDAF

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/24/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person with a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/11/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.