David N Wallace has written a great post about accessing touch technologies and the disabled.

The Touch Barrier – Accessibility and usability issues around touch technologies

June 14th, 2008 Listen to this article. Powered by Odiogo.com

I’m Worried. Worried about recent technology developments – actually the application of one technology in particular – touch. In this instance, when I say ‘touch’ I’m referring to devices requiring skin – a finger as opposed to a stylus – ala the iPhone and nearly every laptop on the market. (read more)

Yes. It’s important and not a minority issue.
How about this for game benefits?

Disabled Gamers’ Comprise 20% of Casual-Videogame Audience

Tens of millions of disabled consumers have gravitated to “casual” videogames as a source of relief or distraction from their infirmities, as well as a sense of accomplishment or belonging, according to an Information Solutions Group survey conducted for PopCap Games (via CNET News Blog).

More than one in five (20.5%) players of casual videogames have a physical, mental or developmental disability – compared with 15.1% of the American population overall who are disabled, according to the latest US Census data.

The demographics:

Profile of Respondents

A total of 13,296 casual game players responded to the survey, with 2,728 respondents (20.5%) identifying themselves as “mildly” (22%), “moderately” (54%) or “severely” (24%) disabled. Of those, 46% indicated that their primary disability was physical, 29% said it was mental, and 25% stated they had a developmental or learning disability. (more)

and benefits of video game playing:

Perceived Benefits of Play

Fully 94% of disabled players of casual games said they believe playing casual games “provides physical or mental benefits” – compared with 80% of casual game players overall.

The most common benefits cited by disabled gamers (when asked to choose as many as applied) were stress relief (81%), mood lifting (69%), distraction from issues related to disability (66%), improved concentration (59%) and mental workouts (58%). (more)

Not all games are social, not all are online. But there are benefits and not just for those with disabilities. And maybe – just maybe – we should be building accessibility and sociability into our online games as well…