WNET Launches Cyberchase’s First Accessible Game “Railway Hero” on PBS KIDS Games App and PBSKIDS.org
Now available for free with accessibility features for children with physical and cognitive impairments, including vision and hearing impairments
Produced in collaboration with Bridge Multimedia
WNET announces the release of “Railway Hero,” the first accessible and universally designed digital game from the PBS KIDS math series Cyberchase, created specifically to incorporate accessibility features for children with physical and cognitive impairments. “Railway Hero” is now available for free on the Cyberchase website at pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Games app.
A collaboration with Bridge Multimedia, an New York City-based accessibility company dedicated to supporting all facets of universal access, with support from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, “Railway Hero” was designed using a “born accessible” approach with accessibility functions built into the game design from the ground up. In this math-based HTML5 game, players join the CyberSquad in the Solar CyberTrain on a mission to repair cyberspace’s Information SuperRailway, after pieces of its track were stolen by the villain Hacker. Using math problem-solving strategies including counting, addition and spatial reasoning, players fill in the empty tracks in the railway on an epic journey across cybersites.
“Railway Hero” launches on a new Cyberchase website, redesigned as a mobile-friendly and more broadly accessible destination for STEM learning for children 6-8. The website features math games, hands-on activities and streaming of over 100 episodes from all 11 seasons of the series, as well as a Topics section that allows children, parents and educators to find their favorite learning content.
“Media with impact is our mission at WNET, and we strive to make all of our learning content accessible and available to as many children as possible, as we have with Cyberchase for over a decade,” said Sandra Sheppard, Executive Producer of Cyberchase and Director of Children’s & Educational Media at WNET. “Now, we are thrilled to launch our first universally designed game, along with a newly accessible and mobile-friendly website on pbskids.org, as part of our strategy to reach all kids.”
To make “Railway Hero” accessible to as many children as possible, WNET and Bridge Multimedia performed extensive user testing and incorporated a number of features to support learners with a variety of physical and cognitive needs. They include:
- Customizable screen display options, including text size, color and contrast options
- Audio control options, including adjustable music, sound effects and voiceover levels
- Support for blind or visually impaired users, including audio description and keyboard controls
- Support for deaf or hard of hearing users, including captioning
- A variety of cognitive supports, including in-game learning supports, the ability to change text sizes and colors, caption controls and audio descriptions
“To ensure that the accessibility content reflected the high standards of PBS KIDS and Cyberchase, we provided our game developers with insights and research from specialists in education, STEM, special education and information technology for individuals with sensory and cognitive impairments,” said Dr. Wendy Sapp, Bridge Multimedia Project Director for “Railway Hero.”
“This game is transformational because it provides game developers and producers with a template to create future games that are also born accessible,” said Matt Kaplowitz, CEO of Bridge Multimedia.
Cyberchase is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Sandra Sheppard and Kristin DiQuollo are executive producers. “Railway Hero” was produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET in association with Bridge Multimedia. The game was developed by Sudden Industries, an award-winning developer of learning and entertainment experiences for kids and families.
Funding for Cyberchase is provided by The JPB Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation and Ernst & Young LLP. Additional funding is provided by Lynne and Marc Benioff, the Tiger Baron Foundation, Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte and Ellen Marcus. Accessibility for “Railway Hero” is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, through grants #H327C150007 and H327C150008. However, this content does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government. Project Officer, Jo Ann McCann.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! And Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history experience. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Theater Close-Up, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person. Through multi-platform initiatives Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America and Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change, WNET showcases the human stories around these issues and promising solutions. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.
About PBS KIDS
PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers children ages 2-8 the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, digital media and community-based programs. PBS KIDS and local stations across the country support the entire ecosystem in which children learn, including their teachers, parents and community. Provided by stations, the free PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and live stream is available to more than 95% of U.S. TV households. Kidscreen- and Webby Award-winning pbskids.org provides engaging interactive content, including digital games and streaming video. PBS KIDS offers mobile apps to help support young children’s learning, including the PBS KIDS Video app, which is available on a variety of mobile devices and on platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Chromecast. PBS KIDS also offers parent and teacher resources to support children’s learning anytime and anywhere. For more information on PBS KIDS content and initiatives supporting school readiness and more, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Bridge Multimedia
Bridge Multimedia is a New York City-based social enterprise dedicated to supporting all facets of universal access for educational, entertainment, corporate and governmental applications. Bridge Multimedia provides media services and ADA compliance & training enterprises that develop universally accessible programming designed to make the 21st century media landscape equally accessible to all people. Through its research and development initiatives, accessibility services, and promotion of workforce solutions for individuals with disabilities, Bridge Multimedia is setting the pace for the development of tomorrow’s innovations. For more information about Bridge Multimedia and its accessibility projects, visit www.bridgemultimedia.com.