Briefly teased at CES 2023 this year, Sony finally lifted the cloth on the PS5’s Access Controller, designed for gamers with limited mobility. Previously known as Project Leonardo, this highly customizable controller was formally launched today, on World Disability Day, marking Sony’s commitment to making gaming more inclusive. The Access Controller is more than a conventional controller – it’s a sophisticated, customizable accessibility controller kit, created in collaboration with accessibility experts. Sony’s intention is to enhance the gaming experience, particularly for players with disabilities.
The Access Controller’s announcement precedes what is believed to be Sony’s major summer event (given that E3 was canceled this year). We’re expecting to hear of new game titles and hardware announcements during this event, including the highly anticipated handheld version of the PS5 and possibly a PS5 Pro with liquid cooling.
With a highly customizable accessibility-focused design, the Access Controller can be used independently, or alongside Sony’s DualSense controller, giving people a wide range of possible use-cases. The controller comes with a disc-shaped design, surrounded by large, interchangeable, easy-to-press keys (as well as a central key) that can be custom-mapped, with easy-to-change disc-shaped tags on all of them for reference. A modular, adjustable joystick on one side acts as the user’s navigation input, like the joystick seen on most controllers.
The Access Controller design comes in collaboration with various accessibility experts, who helped create a controller that isn’t just easy to use, it also encourages longer gaming without feeling any fatigue. The controller offers button caps that come in a variety of shapes and designs, including pillow, flat, wide flat (covering two sockets), overhang (ideal for small-handed players, placed near the center), and curved (pushed from the top or pulled from the bottom) form factors.
To help players keep track of button assignments, the Access controller includes swappable button cap tags. It also offers versatility in positioning, as it can be laid flat, rotated, or attached to an AMPS mount or tripod. Additionally, the distance of the analog stick from the controller can be adjusted as per the player’s preference.
The controller works wirelessly, and sports a USB-C port for charging it or even using it in wired formats. Additionally, four 3.5mm inputs located around its sides let players integrate their own specialty switches, buttons, or analog sticks.
The launch of this controller brings new possibilities to the PS5 console, making the world of gaming more accessible. This represents a step towards gaming that caters to every player’s unique needs, further leveling the playing field. We’ve also seen similar efforts on the accessibility front from Microsoft, who unveiled their Xbox Adaptive Controller a few years ago, and even from startup Augmental, who launched their tongue-powered MouthPad wearable controller last month.