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My Time at the iCivics ELL Convening

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with a special ELL convening hosted by iCivics in DC to talk about some new things coming down the pike for Do I Have a Right?. Currently in development is a Spanish-language translation of the game, as well as new accessibility features for the English edition to accommodate ELL users. We talked about a lot of things, and I learned a ton. I thought I’d share some highlights:

Spanish is Awesome

Ok, maybe a bit off topic, and this may be more of a revelation of my own ignorance, but the group of folks really led me to consider the incredible diversity of cultures across the globe that share a common language. Sure, English is the lingua franca for business across the globe, but Spanish is a passport to places all around the globe with giant diversity in food, culture, and tradition. Making a game usable by Spanish speakers goes way beyond helping our fellow Spanish speaking Americans- it’s a gateway to talking to the planet.

Language Accessibility Is Great for Everyone

When you think about features like voiceovers, glossaries, and a focus on readability in text, you don’t just help ELL users, you also help players with reading challenges, visual disabilities, and…everyone else. The best accessibility features can add depth to a play experience and keep users connected and engaged.

Idioms Are Tricky Business

As a native English speaker, idioms are the cat’s pajamas. They add personality and humor to language…but they can also be alienating. I’ve never seen a cat in pajamas, and if that little turn of phrase wasn’t already stored in my brain, I’d be lost. Spend extra care to make sure the idioms you employ in a game can help keep your language clear, friendly, and accessible.

Inclusive Dialogue Makes for Better Games

We had teachers, professors, dignitaries, and developers around a table. You might think there would be some conflict or discord, but I was delighted just how dedicated everyone there was to talking about practical, fun, and positive changes for Do I Have a Right? to make it not just a translation project, but an across the board better game. If you’re working on something, try and find some new fresh perspectives outside your studio to talk about their play experience. I promise you’ll walk away with new great ideas!

I’d like to thank everyone at the ELL convening. I was there to lend my game expertise, but it truly was a learning experience for me, and made me a better designer. Thank you so much everyone, and thank you iCivics!

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Photo Credit: Amber Coleman-Mortley, iCivics


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