The DOTS project really only started a month or so ago and I’ll admit that I have been on many tangents. From looking to create a new accessible set of gaming rules, making existing systems accessible, creating dice, to working on tactile character sheets…I was all over the place. So what I’ve decided to do is step back, and do more outreach to bring in interested parties to collaborate on projects. This is a passion of mine, not a project of personal, prideful accomplishments and I feel that collaboration is the only way to go!
As I research things for this project, I’m always taken aback at the lack of affordable resources available to the visually impaired, let alone at the complete void of accessible gaming materials. At first this upset me, my thought was, “How dare a gaming company completely blow off the needs of blind players!” But as I started delving into the nitty gritty, I’ve learned that, as a sighted person, it’s really hard to not only grasp the magnitude of the need for accessible gaming aids, but also figuring out how to make things work in a way that’s cost effective for the gamer and keeping gaming materials smaller than a building.
To show this, I’ve posted an image of the McDuffy Reader from the American Print House for the Blind. Both books contain the same exact text, one is in normal print, the other in braille. The Normal print book (on top) is only a quarter of an inch thick compared to the two inch thick book embossed in braille. That’s kind of a big deal when you consider that most game books are 150 to 300 pages long.
Originally I was thinking about audio books, which is still a good idea for taking in a book on the side, but pretty clunky to use at the gaming table. There are also braille readers which are really slick in that they can take the text from a book on a computer screen or a book from an SD card and translate it to a dynamic braille read out. These would be perfect….if you can afford one without mortgaging your house. Here’s a link to some images of braille readers if you have never seen one: https://binged.it/2v7vNo0. There are also some smart phone apps that could be leveraged but are still a bit clunky, and again, at a noisy gaming table they aren’t the greatest solution.
What I would like to see, is set of game books, as a proof of concept, that could be printed in affordable and manageable sized braille volumes so that visually impaired gamers can flip through the books with the rest of the players at the table. This means that simply translating a 200 page game book into a braille book just isn’t easily done. BUT, maybe a rule book could be broken down into different “booklets”. A booklet for character generation, a booklet for magic, a booklet for the core mechanics, etc.
A great example of this is Stan Shinn’s “White Box” 5th edition D&D project. What he has masterfully done, is break down the basics of 5th edition D&D into booklets that simulate the original production of the D&D rulebooks from the 1970’s. For example, the first booklet covers character creation and combat while weighing in at only 50 pages or so. I can totally see that being translated into a braille book.
SO to bring this to a close, start thinking about how game books can be tackled in a manner that will meet accessibility needs while remaining cost effective. Please share your thoughts!