Accessibility and Kinect for Xbox 360


Find the answers to frequently asked questions about accessibility and Kinect for Xbox 360.

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Can people with disabilities play Kinect?

At Microsoft, we believe that interactive entertainment should be enjoyed by as many people as possible. We recognize that each person has unique abilities and not all users will be able to play all the titles available for Kinect for Xbox 360 because of the inherent physical nature of the gameplay. However, an increasing number of titles available for Kinect for Xbox 360 can be played by users with various physical and sensory impairments. In an effort to continually improve the Kinect experience, we actively seek feedback on how we can improve Kinect and Xbox technology for all users. We continue to use this feedback as we work on future versions of Kinect technology. We have made technical improvements since Kinect technology was first released, broadening our gameplay options to include some players who were previously unable to enjoy Kinect. As new technologies like Kinect for Xbox 360 become available, improvements based on feedback can be made with each new edition released.

I’m in a wheelchair, or need to sit all the time. Can I play Kinect?

Seated users can enjoy several features and games developed for Kinect for Xbox 360. Currently, the ability for Kinect to work with seated users is largely dependent on the actual game itself. Some games are more accommodating of seated users than others. Game developers do have the ability to design their games in such a way that activities that some users have trouble with can be skipped or completed in a different way. So, we are educating publishers on this point at various development events in an effort to provide an entertaining gaming experience to a broad audience. Navigating the Dashboard and enjoying controller-free entertainment features on Xbox Live, such as Video Kinect, are experiences that can be enjoyed while seated or standing.

Which Kinect games and features can I use while seated or in a wheelchair?

What can I do to make my seated Kinect experience better?

Other than your initial Kinect calibration, you don’t need to do anything to play the games listed above.

To get the most enjoyment out of using Kinect, consider the following factors:

  • Chairs. Smaller wheelchairs, such as hospital-style chairs or racing chairs, seem to work best with Kinect.
    Also, large protruding arm-rests (such as the control arm on some larger motorized wheelchairs) may inhibit recognition by Kinect, as the infrared sensor might recognize them as the arms of another user. Try to reposition these arm-rests so they’re out of the sensor’s view.
  • Kinect placement. For best recognition when seated, position the Kinect Sensor at seated chest level or slightly higher; do not place the sensor lower than seated chest level.
  • Lighting. Make sure that the room in which you are playing has adequate lighting.
  • Surfaces. Shiny surfaces may cause problems for Kinect. Consider covering any reflective surface on your chair.

I'm an amputee. Can I play Kinect games?

If you're an Xbox 360 user with one arm, you can expect varying degrees of success with Kinect depending on your situation.

  • If the amputation of your arm is above the elbow and you're not wearing a prosthetic arm, Kinect may have difficulty mapping your skeleton. Kinect identifies players by searching for a specified shape—in this case two arms, two legs, and a head—and recognizes that shape as a skeleton. Such mapping is necessary to discern differences between the user and other shapes in the user’s environment (such as a couch, chair, or coffee table.). Without all of those skeletal indicators, Kinect may assume that what it's looking at is not a skeleton, or that its view of a limb is blocked.
  • If the amputation of your arm is below the elbow, or if you use a "realistic-looking" prosthesis, Kinect should be able to map your skeleton.
  • If you're using a partial or mechanical prosthesis, any shiny or reflective surfaces may cause minor problems with skeletal mapping. If such problems occur, try to cover any reflective surfaces to increase the chances of successful mapping and gameplay.

If you're an Xbox 360 user with a prosthetic leg, you should be able to play any Kinect game for which you have the appropriate mobility and range of motion.

  • Kinect mapping is based on visual cues, so a "realistic-looking" prosthetic leg should be recognized like a natural leg. If you're wearing a pair of pants over your prosthetic leg, Kinect should recognize your body shape and allow you to play any game for which you have the appropriate mobility and range of motion.
  • If you're using a more mechanical-type prosthesis without trousers, any shiny or reflective surfaces may cause minor problems with skeletal mapping. If such problems occur, try to cover any reflective surfaces to increase the chance of successful mapping and gameplay.
  • If you use a walking aid such as a cane, Kinect may view the walking aid as an extension of your arm rather than a separate object and have corresponding difficulty mapping your arm movements.

Does Kinect support sign language?

At present, Kinect does not support sign language as a form of command input to the sensor..

Will I be able to use Kinect speech recognition?

With the release of the latest dashboard, updates have been made to Kinect’s speech recognition feature. These updates should improve hands-free navigation through the Xbox dashboard, as well as with the cloud searching feature for supported countries/regions and languages. With these updates, the following countries/regions and languages support Kinect speech recognition:

























New Zealand








United Kingdom


United States


I have impaired speech or an accent. Will Kinect speech recognition work for me?

In an effort to deliver the appropriate response to user commands, Kinect's voice recognition is designed to respond to specific speech patterns. This feature helps limit the amount of unintentional on-screen responses from environmental sounds (dogs barking, phones ringing, etc.). This can affect Kinect's ability to track and respond to sounds and voices that it is unable to map to the Kinect multilingual database of recognized spoken commands. Kinect has tackled some amazing technological challenges since its release in 2010, and we believe consumers will be delighted with the latest updates available this season, including enhanced voice recognition, that allow gameplay to be possible for more users than ever before. We have been working hard to find ways to overcome some of the challenges that face Kinect users and, as the technology evolves, ideas thought to be impeded by obstacles often become more feasible to implement.

Will I be able to enjoy videos and movies on my Xbox, even though I have a hearing impairment?

Yes. Updates to the Xbox 360 console have made it possible for Movies & TV to display closed captions for videos that have them. (Video programming owners—not Microsoft—provide the captions.)

The first update to provide closed caption functionality for both Xbox 360 and Windows 8 computers was made available in the fall of 2012.

Which shows and movies are captioned?

Effective fall 2012, video programming owners are expected to provide captions for all full-length, non-exempt, pre-recorded video programming using Internet Protocol that aired on U.S. television with captions after September 30, 2012. Additional programs will be captioned at a later date and in accordance with FCC guidelines.

How do I know which videos offer captions?

In the Movies & TV catalogue, videos that include closed captions are marked with the text "[CC]" or the standard closed captioning logo, which is a symbol that shows "CC" inside a square or television-shaped frame.

How do I set my Xbox 360 console or Windows 8 computer to display closed captioning?

For videos offered through Movies & TV and for many third party apps, you should be able to use the settings on your Dashboard to play closed captions when they are available.

Here's how to enable closed captioning on your Xbox 360 console:

  1. On your console, go to settings, System, and then Console Settings.
    Note If you’re not seeing settings, you might be using an old version of the console software. For information about how to update it, see How to get a new Xbox 360 update.
  2. Select Display.
  3. Select Closed Caption.
  4. To see closed captions in the default Media Settings view, click Use Media Setting.
    To personalize closed captions, click Use customer style and follow the steps to customize the closed captions for the following:
    • Background color
    • Background transparency
    • Caption effect
    • Color (of letters)
    • Size (of letters)
    • Style (of letters)
    • Windows color
    • Windows transparency

Here's how to enable closed captioning on your Windows 8-based computer:

  1. On a Windows 8-based computer that's playing a video, select Playback options.
  1. Click Captions.
  2. Customize how closed captions are displayed on your computer. You can customize the following:
    • Character color
    • Character transparency
    • Character size
    • Font style
    • Caption background color
    • Background transparency
  3. Click Save.

Are my closed captioning preferences saved to my hardware or to my Xbox Live account?

Closed captioning preferences for first-party videos and third-party apps are usually saved to your Xbox 360 console or Windows 8 computer. As a result, any caption-equipped video that plays on your console or computer will display the captions. To turn off the captions, follow the preliminary steps in the previous answer but turn off closed captioning.


  • Some third- party apps, such as Netflix, can save your closed captioning preferences in the app’s account settings.
  • If you use your Xbox Live account to sign in on an Xbox 360 console or Windows 8-based computer that’s not yours, you'll need to set up your closed captioning preferences on that console or computer just as you did on your own console or computer.

What will captions on my Xbox 360 or Windows 8 computer look like?

Xbox 360 and Windows 8 video captions are displayed as text in front of the video playing on the screen, which is similar to closed captions on your television. After closed captions are enabled, the default caption setting will display white text on a black background.

To change the characteristics of the captions displayed on your screen, see How do I set my Xbox 360 console or Windows 8 computer to display closed captioning?

Do I need to be online to watch a video with closed captions?

No. When you purchase and download a captioned video through Movies & TV, the entire file—including the capacity for closed captions—is stored on your Xbox 360 console whether or not you've enabled closed captions through the Dashboard. This means that although you need an Internet connection to download a video to your console or your Windows 8-based computer, you don’t have to be connected to the Internet or Xbox Live to play the video with closed captions.

Whom do I contact to request closed captioning for a video?

Captions are provided by the video programming owners—usually the movie studios or television networks (or their parent companies) that own the video content. To request captions for a specific movie or television show, contact the content owner.

Whom do I contact if my closed captioning isn’t working correctly?

If you're experiencing problems with Internet Protocol (IP) closed captioning, contact Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer, by email at Microsoft Closed Captioning Accessibility Issues or by using the following contact information:

Rob Sinclair
Chief Accessibility Officer
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Phone: (425) 882-8080
Fax: (425) 936-7329

How does Microsoft focus on accessibility with Kinect?

In an effort to continually improve the Kinect experience, we engage with the accessibility community to help us improve our Kinect and Xbox technology for all users through our Xbox 360 Accessibility Information email alias and events like the “Kinect Accessibility Roundtable." Assistive technologies and accessibility features of Kinect for Xbox 360 make navigation and gameplay easier and more comfortable for Kinect users. With speech recognition and enhanced skeletal tracking, the Kinect experience can now be enjoyed by more users than ever before. We are also educating publishers at various development events on how to design their titles to reach a broader audience, including users with physical and sensory impairments and those with unique game play needs.

Where does accessibility fit into the greater mission of Microsoft?

Microsoft leads the industry in innovation for accessibility through our commitment to empower and enable people of all abilities and to help people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. We consider our mission statement a promise to our customers and deliver on that promise by striving to create technology that is accessible to everyone.

How does Microsoft accomplish these goals?

Microsoft demonstrates its understanding of and commitment to accessibility by considering the accessibility of our products in all stages of product planning, research and development, product development, and testing. We collaborate with stakeholders around the world and build strong relationships with technology partners, governments, and organizations that advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. Microsoft also supports global policy agendas that promote broader digital inclusion at regional, national, and international levels.

Where can I learn more about Microsoft and its commitment to accessibility?

Visit the Microsoft Accessibility website.

I would like to speak to someone at Microsoft about my accessibility situation with Kinect. Whom can I talk to?

Contact us by email at and one of our team members will gladly answer your question or direct you to the most appropriate person on the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 team.

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