It’s always nice to see a company take the potential disabilities of their fans into account when designing hardware or software. For example, as someone who’s completely deaf in one ear and hard-of-hearing in the other, it’s always nice to see subtitles included for a game. US-based Peter Byrne had a disability of another nature entirely, and frustration drove him to eventually contact Sony to see if they could help him out.
Byrne was born with cerebral palsy, a movement disorder that can oftentimes result in poor coordination, stiff/weak muscles and tremors. Because of the way the disease locks up the muscles in his left hand, he often has trouble with Sony’s DualShock 4 controller which has a sensitive touch pad on the top for gesture controls. Amazingly, one Sony employee got back to him on the issue, and promised to personally construct a controller that would work around the issue.
Alex Nawabi, head of retail marketing operations for Sony America, wrote back to Byrne to find out more about the issue, and promised to personally tackle the problem and find a solution that would work for Byrne. Nawabi ended up taking apart three controllers and spending ten hours on a hardware workaround for the touchpad issue. He eventually ended up disabling it, and installed a small button on the right-hand side of the controller to act as the click button on the touchpad.
Once he was satisfied that it was working, Nawabi contacted Byrne again and told him a fib – that he was unsuccessful with the issue – and would send along a bag of goodies from Sony instead. A week later, the bag of goodies arrived on Byrne’s doorstep, and inside was the modified controller, some other goodies, and a letter from Nawabi explaining what he’d done, and asked for feedback to build a second unit later on.
For now, there’s no warranty associated with the controller, and it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind thing for now, but it’s quite possible that Byrne’s second controller will end up having full warranty support and coverage by Sony. I’d really like to see these kinds of things being made possible by peripherals manufacturers, because it’s difficult for gamers who are physically disabled to find something that allows them to enjoy their hobby fully.