The AbleGamers Foundation Inc.

Combating Social Isolation Through Play

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

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

Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Steve D. Spohn

Main address

PO Box 508

Charles Town, WV 25414 USA

Show more contact info

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.

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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

One of the core tenets of AbleGamers is that gaming is not just the game, but the rich community. Fostering inclusive communities gives people with disabilities a place to make connections with like-minded people.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

People with disabilities want to become players, so they can combat the social isolation that is an epidemic in the disabled population. This requires one-on-one help between our trained specialists and the person with disabilities.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

There may not be a product on the market that will bridge the gap between a player with disabilities and the content they want to connect with, so we have a facility that lets us make it.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

AbleGamers has set itself apart because it has the largest group of players with disabilities that contribute their data to help make the digital entertainment industry a more accessible place.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

In order to support our community, we must work hand-in-hand with the gaming industry to educate and support as they create new content, so features and options are available to support players with disabilities.

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

Our Peer Counselors spend on average 9 hours for each person we assist. 2021 number does not include online support.

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. We have over 400 people with disabilities who participate in our work.

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

User Research

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

AbleGamers created a Certified APX Practitioner Course. We train content creators and developers on how to make content that supports the needs of people with disabilities.

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

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

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.

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 $350 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
Professional Development guides industry philosophies to promote an inclusive and accessible future. We can build a new controller to help a player with a physical disability. Still, to support other disabilities, those solutions are done in the software. So this pillar also develops materials and provides education to the gaming industry on assistive technology and equipment for people with disabilities.

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 that cannot afford the technology they need to game.

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

Our Player Researchers 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 perspective to game design and development.

Our Expansion Pack program provides customized packages of assistive gaming technologies to facilities with special needs patients.

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.

One of our proudest moments was the development of the Xbox Adaptive Controller alongside the passionate developers at Xbox and Microsoft. 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, the AbleGamers Expansion Pack program provides free customized packages of assistive gaming technologies to facilities with special needs patients as a way to ensure gaming experiences are widely accessible to everyone, including those with physical disabilities. In the program’s first year alone, AbleGamers donated six Expansion Packs to various medical institutions, sending out $100,000 worth of accessible technology such as modified controllers and other devices and providing on-site training and support. With the support of gamers and sponsors, AbleGamers aims to increase the size and frequency of future Expansion Packs.

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 2021 we have trained and certified 200 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.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We serve individuals with disabilities of all ages

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Case management notes,

  • 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,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have formed several partnerships with various organizations, for example, hospitals, assisted living centers, and state organizations that are serving individuals with disabilities to get them much needed assistive equipment and monetary grants for their programs. Based on feedback, we changed the peer counseling to expose more solutions so that players with disabilities can self-help, this has allowed us to serve more people with the same resources.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We as an organization rely on feedback from the people we serve to better understand their needs and adjust our programs and services accordingly.

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

    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 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,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

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 3/11/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Mark Barlet

AppSol Technologies

Term: 2009 - 2015

Stephanie Walker

The AbleGamers Foundation

Cheryl Mitchell

EconSys

Larry Goldberg

Yahoo!

Christopher Power

University of York, UK

Steve Spohn

The AbleGamers Foundation

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 03/11/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

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

Race & ethnicity

Gender 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.