Even though Cameron Akitt grew up hard of hearing, for him British Sign Language is a second language. English is his first. An avid gamer, subtitles supplement what he hears, correcting things he may have misheard or missed because of too much background noise. But he has friends who are deaf, for whom reading captions can cause fatigue.
“For them, it’s a really tiring experience, not being able to access your first language,” says Akitt, a London-based teacher of deaf/hard of hearing young children in a hospital-based school. “We should be able to access the same story beats and narrative components. Otherwise, we’re only getting half the picture and not getting the full experience. Including sign language is about enabling more deaf and hard of hearing people to have ownership over their gaming experience.”
Xbox Game Studios developer Playground Games and Xbox invited Akitt in as a consultant when they decided early in development to incorporate sign language support into Forza Horizon 5. Starting March 1, a free, in-game update will include American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) support for its in-game cinematics.
The update includes actors from the deaf and hard of hearing community signing in parts of the story between driving, such as jumping into challenges, getting ready for a race, meeting other players and racing across Mexico while planes fly overhead.
Read more about this update on Microsoft Stories.