AbleGamers’ free adapter unlocks Xbox support for power wheelchairs

AbleGamers

AbleGamers and A.T Makers are now offering a bespoke adaptor to turn a power wheelchair’s built-in controls into an Xbox-compatible controller. The new Freedom Wing Adapter is available right now, for free, through the AbleGamers grant program, and offers gamers the ability to utilise their existing power wheelchair hardware to play their favourite games with ease.

Rather than emulate the familiar interface of a power wheelchair, Steve Spohn of gaming charity AbleGamers and Bill Binko of A.T Makers went about seeking a way to directly plug a gamer’s wheelchair, complete with joystick interface, into gaming hardware – specifically an Xbox games console (via Engadget). They decided upon an intermediary board, sitting between a wheelchair’s own proprietary interface and an Xbox Adaptive Controller.

“This is really handy because people have already positioned these [joystick interfaces] on their chairs,” Binko says in the announcement video, “they have muscle memory, and are able to use them. Turns out, it’s a really great way to get gaming for somebody that uses a power chair.”

The Freedom Wing Adapter board is rather simple. There’s a voltage regulator, a microcontroller, and a few resistors. It’s simplicity is an intentional decision to enable at-home DIY enthusiasts and local professionals to create their own versions of the board as required. All-in, Binko says you should expect material costs around $30-35.

“It’s really just miraculous that this device can take my own personal wheelchair, the joystick I use to drive it everyday, that I use to do my own personal living and personal life,” Spohn says. “And now, through the power of magic and unicorns and whatever else we use to make adapters, is what I can control Rocket League with.”

AbleGamers and A.T Makers are working on a list on compatible power wheelchairs, but in the meantime it expects most 9-pin proportional joysticks will be compatible.

Make sure to check out the AbleGamers website for more on its grant and its mission. And if you’d like to donate to the gaming charity, which also worked with Logitech on its new accessibility kit and limited edition G Pro Wireless mice, you can do so through the support page here.