Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ideas for RPG Gaming for the Visually Impaired

Okay, a little while back there was a posting over at the Paizo message boards (which I drop by most days) on "Running-Pathfinder-for-the-visually-impaired".  The author was starting a game soon and would have a player whose vision is totally impaired.  So far I've never had a player with any sort of disability, but I certainly would welcome one to my games.  A fellow gamer is a fellow gamer.

Anyway, the author got quite a few responses and I was very interested to read the ideas and experiences that people shared.  I tossed in some quick ideas there but decided I'd revisit the idea with a bit more thought to the matter.  The main areas where it seems to me that impaired vision will have the most impact are:
  • information on the character sheet, particularly information which usually changes during a session such as HP, XP, money, etc.
  • dice rolls, and finding the dice after rolling; I swear, every single session of gaming I've ever been in has included at least one episode of a die going astray and the owner stopping everything to go find it.
  • maps, battle mats, and miniatures
  • looking up rules (another area where a lot of time can be lost at the table during play)
As for the character sheet, there are braille printers which can be used to produce readable sheets.  I'm not fully familiar with all their capabilities, but trying to align print onto a fancy character sheet probably wouldn't work.  I suspect that either you'd have to do with a text-only sheet (like I used for my character in a recent game) or maybe a fillable pdf.

Then there's the question of the info which changes frequently, particularly hit points (HP).  My original idea was to put paper clips on the paper, say at the top, representing the character's HP.  To save on crowding of the clips you could use large ones for 10 HP and small ones for 1 HP.  As HP are lost you move the appropriate number of clips to a different edge and as the damage is recovered you move them back.  This movement will eventually begin to wear at the paper.  You could use a plastic cover or print the sheet on stiffer cardstock instead of regular paper.  I usually use cardstock anyway because it's more durable.  (My players all seemed to think cardstock was the lap of luxury for some reason.  No idea why; I mean, you just buy it at the store from the regular paper supplies section.)  Some people suggested using poker chips or coins, which also work to keep track of points.  But I mentioned that the paper clips can be conveniently left on the sheet at the end of a session if HP are still missing and, this is big for me, is keeps the table less cluttered.  My gamers pile all sorts of stuff on the table and it's often a struggle to clear a space to toss down a map.

Dice rolling is another question to tackle.  There are braille six-sided dice on the market, but I don't think there are other die types available.  Even if it's just the braille d6, the person would have the fun of owning their own playing dice.  I suppose you could try taking large dice and putting braille on them with dots of glue or something, but I think you'd need large dice to do it properly.  That might be a problem at your gaming space or maybe not.  I think it would be a fun project to try anyway.

Perhaps instead of dice you could improvise with braille playing cards to randomize numbers (just take out the jack, queen, and king).  Like for a d4 roll the player just keeps drawing until drawing a number in the 1-4 range

For the playing "mat" you could try a braille chess board--and use the chess pieces as "figures".  Or maybe you can find something at the hardware or craft store to lay flat which will make a grid you can feel; miniatures should be easy to discriminate in a tactile way.  Perhaps you can glue craft sticks down on a board in a grid or something.  Then you need something to indicate terrain.  Again the craft store should have bags of cheap stuff you can use for a tactile representation of stuff, like pom-poms for bushes and trees.

Have you ever played with someone who was visually impaired?

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