For some gamers, physically activating all of the controls on a standard gaming controller can be difficult. The design of the controllers means that the buttons and sticks can feel stiff to press and move for some people, and reaching around the controller to access all of the controls can also be difficult due to their size and shape.
To help with this there are a range of low-force/lightweight options available, ranging from standard controllers that have been modified, to specially made joysticks and buttons. In this post we will focus on low-force joysticks and switches. If you would like to read about lightweight controllers, please read this post: https://gameaccess.info/low-force-controllers/
It is worth noting that if you can use part of a standard controller but need access to other controls through low-force joysticks and/or switches, this may be possible by using Xbox’s Co-pilot feature or by using a Titan Two adaptor on other consoles.
If reaching both sticks on a standard controller is difficult, there can be ways to add external low-force joysticks. These can be positioned wherever the user can access them, such as by their hands, feet, or mounting them by their chin. It is possible to get the following working using an Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC), which is designed to work with PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles and can also be used with a Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PS5 by using a Titan Two adaptor. All of the joysticks mentioned in this post are analogue.
Celtic Magic J2 Light Force Joystick
This joystick comes in two options, requiring either 60 grams or 20 grams of force to activate the joystick movement. It comes with a 3.5mm jack cable which can be plugged into either the X1 or X2 slots on the XAC to act as either left stick or right stick movement and is attached to a base which can make it easier to mount. At SpecialEffect, we often put Dual Lock on the base of these controllers and position them using Manfrotto Variable Friction Arms for users who use head/chin movement to access the joystick.
Celtic Magic J3 Light Force Joystick
Similar in many ways to the J2, this joystick is in smaller housing that is slightly tilted towards the user, potentially making it easier for some people to access with their finger or hand. It has a smaller base, meaning it may make it easier to mount to a desk or tray whilst potentially fitting a second joystick and some low-force switches nearby. The joystick is available in either 60 gram or 20 gram activation options and can be plugged into the X1 or X2 ports on the XAC.
For the J2 and J3 joysticks, plus other options, please see this link: https://www.celticmagic.org/xac-buying-options
Celtic Magic Feather Joystick
The Celtic Magic Feather is a USB joystick that can also be purchased as a mouse option. It has adjustable sensitivity that can go as low as only requiring 5 grams of force. The joystick model is compatible with the XAC. It comes in a variety of different stands and with several different joystick tops. It can be purchased via Celtic Magic: https://www.celticmagic.org/feather
Below are images of some of the other joystick tops available for the Celtic Magic Feather Joystick.
XAC Mini Joystick
The XAC mini joystick is compatible with the XAC and comes in both standard resistance (similar to the resistance of a standard console controller analogue stick) and lighter strength options. It is possible to plug the joystick into the X1 or X2 slots on the XAC to act as the left or right analogue stick, or you can choose the USB connection option to use the L or R USB slots on the XAC. It also includes a switch port to act as the left or right stick click. The XAC Mini Joystick is available via OneSwitch: https://www.oneswitch.org.uk/art.php?id=270
If reaching and pressing all of the buttons on a standard controller is difficult, accessibility switches can be a helpful option. These can be plugged into a variety of switch interfaces, including the XAC and used either instead of or alongside a standard controller. Switches can be made to act as whichever button the user needs them to be and can be positioned wherever they can activate them, such as by their fingers or toes. The following switches are digital and are all low force.
Ultra Light HD Switches
These are small light-pressure switches that are easy to mount by using Velcro on the base. We often find these are especially useful for people to activate using either finger or toe movement and they only require a small amount of force (28g) to activate them. The Ultra Light HD switch can be used with a range of switch interfaces that accept a 3.5mm jack, including the XAC. Due to their size and shape, it is also possible to fit them into small spaces or to position several close to one another. They require the least amount of pressure to activate when compared with the other switches in this post.
These switches are available in the UK via OneSwitch: https://www.oneswitch.org.uk/art.php?id=264
They are also available from the US via ATEC: https://atec-inc.square.site/product/at-ultra-light-hd-switch/2?cs=true&cst=custom and Marblesoft: https://www.marblesoft.online/ultra-light-hd/
Logitech Small Buttons
Three of these buttons come as part of the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit, and they require the least activation force (56g) of any of the switches included in the kit. They can be useful for those who need a round switch that does not require a huge amount of force.
Light Touch Buttons
There are four Light Touch Buttons included in the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit. They require more force (actuation force: 59g) to activate than both the Ultra Light HD switches and the Small Switches, but provide a nice alternative for someone who needs a switch of this size and shape that requires more physical pressure.
To see more about the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit, please see this link: https://www.logitechg.com/en-gb/products/gamepads/adaptive-gaming-kit-accessories.943-000339.html
Sip and Puff Switches
These come with a tube which can be positioned near to a person’s mouth, so that they can sip/puff on the end to provide two separate inputs, which in turn activates two different buttons. These can be plugged into the XAC to act as whichever button the user needs. These are available from: https://www.liberator.co.uk/sip-puff-switch-with-headset
If physically accessing all of the controls is difficult, it is also worth noting that all of the current consoles allow for button remapping at a system level (https://gameaccess.info/how-to-remap-controls-on-xbox-one-ps4-or-nintendo-switch/) and that some mainstream games have reduced control schemes and other accessibility settings that can potentially help.
We hope that this post has been useful. If you have any questions, please contact us.