Videos: Charlbury charity SpecialEffect gives disabled gamers worldwide help to join in the fun

Alex, who has spinal muscular atrophy, enjoys gaming using an eyebrow switch set-up that the charity created for him

Alex, who has spinal muscular atrophy, enjoys gaming using an eyebrow switch set-up that the charity created for him

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

A CHARLBURY-based charity is facing international demand after it posted videos online of those it has helped.

SpecialEffect adapts video game systems so they can be used by people with physical disabilities.

Chief executive Dr Mick Donegan said the charity now helps 12 times as many people as when he founded it in 2007.

According to Dr Donegan, in its first year the charity supported about 50 people. But in the last year it has helped 600.

He said: “To be able to pay for the staff and equipment we need to do what we do now, we will need about £1m a year.

“Over the next three years we will have to work towards that through more fundraising, because we don’t receive any grants and we don’t charge for our services.

“A lot of the requests we get are from around the UK and we can go and meet those people face to face.

“But we are also getting international requests now, which we are trying to deal with.”

The organisation, which brands itself as ‘the gamer’s charity’, posts videos on YouTube of people it has created systems for. The videos have received more than 260,000 views.

One shows a man with spinal muscular atrophy, who can play Grand Theft Auto V using micro-switches that harness the small finger movements in his right hand and two mounted joysticks he operates using his chin.

A system originally used by advertising firms to track eye movement across a page has also been adapted to allow users to steer in a car game by looking left or right.

Dr Donegan, below, said: “One of the reasons it is building up is people’s conditions change over time.


The Oxford Times:

“We will go back to those people and they may need a different system or their game tastes may have changed because they are older.

“It is a life-long service for many. But we are helping those people, as well as all those who have recently got in touch.”

The charity recently received almost £100,000 raised by participants in the Twin Town Challenge.

The challenge involved 50 teams driving cars worth £500 or less from Witney to its French twin town Le Touquet.

Dr Donegan added: “That sort of donation is so important to us and we are already spending the money to help us support more people.”



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