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UK gaming charity SpecialEffect to receive Special Award at 20th BAFTA Games Awards

27 March 2024
Event: A Taste of BAFTADate: Wednesday 23 February 2022Venue: BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London- Area: Branding & Set-UpBAFTA/Scott Garfitt
  • SpecialEffect to be awarded a BAFTA Special Award – one of the arts charity’s highest honour.
  • The Special Award will be presented to SpecialEffect founder and CEO Dr Mick Donegan MBE at the 20th BAFTA Games Awards on Thursday 11 April

BAFTA has today announced that UK gaming charity SpecialEffect, will receive the prestigious Special Award at the 20th BAFTA Games Awards.  The award, which recognises outstanding contributions to games, film and television, is one of the highest accolades bestowed by BAFTA.  Dr Mick Donegan MBE, founder and CEO of SpecialEffect, will pick up the Special Award at the annual BAFTA Games Awards ceremony on Thursday 11 April.

In 2007, Mick Donegan founded SpecialEffect to help people with even the most severe physical challenges to access video games. The organisation uses specialised technology to enhance access to video games and creative self-expression for people with a wide range of disabilities.

SpecialEffect’s success began as a result of the collaboration between Mick, a specialist in assistive technology and his son Bill, a keen gamer with a background in product design. Since its creation, the charity has grown to thirty employees, raising all their own funds, and has provided specialist one-to-one assessments and support to severely disabled people throughout the UK and beyond.

Dr Mick Donegan MBE, SpecialEffect founder and CEO, said “With a background in special education, I realised how much people with severe physical disabilities were missing out by not being able to play. I started SpecialEffect not only to help individuals to play video games but also to collaborate with the games industry to make their games more accessible ‘at source’. Since then, we have been privileged to be invited to share our ideas with more and more developers all over the world. Now, 17 years since SpecialEffect began, it’s an absolute honour for SpecialEffect’s work to be recognised by BAFTA.”

Emma Baehr, BAFTA executive director of awards and content, said “SpecialEffect’s work is essential to the games world and is hugely deserving of a BAFTA Special Award. Their innovative and supportive approach to making games accessible drives progress within the industry, collaborating with developers and studios on new technologies to make games within reach to more people. We look forward to honouring their contribution to games at the ceremony on Thursday 11 April.”

Throughout the years, SpecialEffect has been involved in collaborating with Xbox, Sony and Logitech, to help design accessible controllers and a switch kit, enabling thousands more severely disabled players to access their games using a wide range of control devices. They have also worked with games studios and developers to help make their games more accessible. The organisation also developed EyeMine, a freely downloadable gaze-controlled interface to enable players to enjoy Minecraft through gaze-control alone.

Later this year will see the rollout of their EyeGaze Games (currently available on PC only) onto Android and iOS, games designed to be fully accessible for people with physical disabilities, whether they use gaze control, joysticks, switches, or gamepads. 

Previous Special Award recipients honoured for their work across games, film and television include June Givanni, David Olusoga, Alison Barnett, Nicky Sargent & Vikki Dunn, Idris Elba, Nikki Lilly, Epic Games, Nicola Shindler, Emma Thomas, Nolan North, John Motson, Game of Thrones, Riot Games, Brenda Romero, Amy Hennig, Sam House, and Leslie Benzies.

The Special Award will be presented to Mick Donegan at the 20th annual BAFTA Games Awards on Thursday 11 April at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank, London, which will be livestreamed to audiences across the globe, on BAFTA’s YouTubeTwitch, and X channels. 

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Augustin Wecxsteen
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Notes to Editors

A range of resources SpecialEffect developed are freely available online, such as the SpecialEffect Devkit, GameAccess.Info and video case studies to inform and inspire developers, professionals and disabled players right across the world.


BAFTA – the British Academy of Film and Television Arts - is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For more, visit BAFTA is a registered charity (no. 216726).

About SpeciaEffect

UK-based charity SpecialEffect put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games. There's no one-size-fits-all way of doing this, so their specialist assessment teams match or modify technology to create and loan truly personalised gaming control setups, enabling people of all ages to play the games they love to the very best of their abilities. The charity shares everything they learn through advice and accessibility resources for players and developers across the globe, and all of their support is completely free of charge. They simply aim to do whatever it takes to raise the quality of life for as many disabled gamers as possible all over the world.