Accessibility features?

 
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 88
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:58 pm    Post subject: Accessibility features? Reply with quote

Does anyone here have experience with adding accessiblity features for blind mudders? What do you use?

A few obvious things:

-- Making everything accessible as plain text. Ascii maps and colour coding are the two major obstacles here...

-- Giving the player a way to reduce spam. How much of the info displayed in a mud is really spam and how much of it is in one way or another essential for playing? Has anybody tried adding for example different beeps for different hits/misses in combat? Is it viable, or does it take away too much from the experience?

Anything else you have done to make mudding easier for blind people? I'm fumbling in the dark (pun not really intended).
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 94
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2005 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not surprised at the lack of responses...

I used to know a guy who was a transsexual. She was pleased by the compliments of her friends, but had a need to go out among strangers and prove she could "pass". Being accepted as normal was very important to her.

I've known of two blind players in 6 years, and the only reason they "came out" was I tricked them by using the extended character set to decorate my 'who'. Their curiousity got the best of them.

They were of the overly independant, "I can do it myself" variety, as might be expected of mudders, and gave me little feedback as to what might be improved, being quite adamant they wanted no special treatment. One pointed out, though, that text-based games are one of the few things truly accessable to them on the 'net (I wonder how this forum software fares in a "reader"?). So, we're probably all playing host to more blind folks than we suspect.

As I understand it, the color codes just get ignored. Decorative lines such as '<================>' are annoying to some of them (go on, say it out loud); however, I believe some readers omit such repeats. I have a penchant for using color to display information, and my colored asterisks that replaced the (Red Aura) flags on EQ didn't go over so well. I changed them to colored letters. Basically though, my impression was that muds don't throw anywhere near the garbage at them that other venues do.

I've gone back to asterisks now, because they look so much better to me (and it's been just me for the last year and a half), but on my ToDo list is to add a flag for readers, and have it strip out all the meaningless decoration and replace the color codes with symbols, so a "plus aura" would be a Good player, and a "pipe aura" a Neutral one.

Adding sounds is an intriguing idea. Hmmm...
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2005 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One very simple option that went down well was a 'display' command, which displays the same sort of information as a customised prompt. As most muds already have custom prompt code, such a feature shouldn't take more than a few minutes to implement.

A regular prompt causes so much spam with a reader that blind players have little choice but to turn it off - however that makes it difficult for them to work out how well they're doing in combat (if you think the prompt is spammy, imagine what it's like to type 'score' every time you want to check your hp!).

With the display command, though, the blind player can simply set an alias - for example a 'health' alias which displays their current hit points.
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Daemo



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 5
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2005 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
if you think the prompt is spammy, imagine what it's like to type 'score' every time you want to check your hp!

as a player i usualy use the group or report commands (if they are available)
its usualy only 1 or 2 lines and shows all the important stuff such as health, mana etc, exp to level, money on person/bank
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Molly O'Hara



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2005 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if blind players are that common or if perhaps it is the same guys going around and playing several different Muds. We too have had a couple of blind players, both at the same time, and obviously they knew each other from before. Both of them told me that they were blind, and also told about the software they used, which apparently read the text on the screen loud to them. Neither of them ever asked for - or received - any special treatment.

It amazed me that they could play the game, with all the spam that fighting generates, but they seemed to get along pretty well. One of them even asked and was allowed to build. I remember finding that too astonishing, but actually it would have been easier than playing, because he could choose his own pace. He never finished his zone, but then again that's something he shares with the majority of the Builders we've had over the years.

Both of them played the game very intensely for about a year, and then 'faded out' like many players do, but still visit the mud occasionally, mostly to chat it seems. But that too is something they share with seeing players.
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 88
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandi wrote:
... on my ToDo list is to add a flag for readers, and have it strip out all the meaningless decoration and replace the color codes with symbols, so a "plus aura" would be a Good player, and a "pipe aura" a Neutral one.


We're leaning towards a similar solution right now. We will probably end up adding a permanent flag, set at creation or by an admin, that will deliver the mud in a reader-friendly format. A problem that has surfaced recently when we were struggling with botting is that pure text is easier to bot - therefore it cannot be a setting to turn on and off. In the reader version, you will permanently lose access to features such as the ASCII map, concise technique lists that use colour codes to convey information etc., making it much harder to deal with for sighted players.

As for the sounds - seems like at least some would find it helpful. One of our blind players even put together a sound pack for GW2. I imagine integrating sounds into the mud would make life a lot easier, especially during combat spam (when people turn off the readers, thus possibly missing crucial info). If we replaced "The orc smashes you on the legs with it's club of crushing" (try saying that 5 times a round!) with a smash sound, they could actually follow the fight and react better.
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Kaz



Joined: 05 Jun 2005
Posts: 24
Location: Hampshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a mud I worked on once upon a time, there was one chap who was pretty much going blind, and had to view the mud in a really high resolution, with a really high contrast. He didn't say much about this, but did give me a few words of thanks when I implemented a justification utility and the ability to set your screen width* in a config setting.

Fortunately, our colour scheme was gaudy enough that he found it quite easy to see.

*Of course, had I know about Telnet NAWS at the time, I might have done it slightly differently....
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 88
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing that just struck me as potentially helpful is a wide enough range of filtering options for lists and tables. Where a sighted player can get the information, such as players in certain areas in who list or defensive moves in a technique list, at a glance, filtering options would do the same for players depending on a reader. If they can do a 'who nexus' or 'techniques def', it cuts down on the spam they have to sort through to get the info they want.

Just one of those "duh, that's so obvious" thoughts.
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webdeva



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 1
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:41 pm    Post subject: Accessibility Reply with quote

Hi, yeah, I know this is an old thread, but I just found it today! I'm a blind player on several muds. For me, it all depends on the client, most of the
muds I've came across are as accessible as telnet which is pretty accessible. I tend to be able to be very eficient in telnet, no matter how much stuff
comes at me, because telnet reads everything, and most times that's a good thing. When testing other clients, however, I find that I will indeed be read the prompt over and over again, and yeah, that does get spammy, especially if I can't keep up with combat because of it. That said, the only problem i've had with telnet, is that it doesn't scroll back, so, if I'm reading directions, and they suddenly disappear, I can't retrieve them again. Telnet is, to date, the most accessible client (if you can call it that), that I've used.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my players recently mentioned an article about blind gamers. I found it quite interesting: Spot On: The blind gaming the blind
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clink



Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if MXP could be used to help in some way. I guess a client would need to be smart enough to interpret the tags and make them accessible.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some more accessability features I've found effective:

1. Some information is normally displayed in a formatted table. An alternative display of the same information is provided for blind players.

2. The 'area' command normally displays an ASCII map of the world, while typing 'area list' provides a list of all the areas you've explored. As the ASCII map is of no use to blind players, they see the area list even if they just type 'area' - but because the list only shows areas you've already visited, blind players are also provided with a 'scan' command. This lists the approximate distance and direction to the ten nearest areas (using descriptions instead of names for areas they've not visited before), making it easier for them to explore the world.

3. Added MSP support, with a range of configurable sound options and a decent soundpack. I was surprised at just how popular this was with the blind players - some new blind players even joined specifically because MSP support had been added.

4. The randomly generated dungeons proved a real problem for blind players because of the walls and coordinate-based movement. I addressed this by changing the dungeon tiles (which are each 5x5 blocks of terrain) so that the tile exits are always in the centre of the appropriate edge, then adding a 'centre' command which causes your character to walk to the centre of the tile you're currently on. Then I extended the movement commands so that you can type 'north 1 tile', 'east 2 tiles', etc. Finally, I updated the 'area' command when in dungeons so that it shows which exits your tile has, and how many tiles (and in which direction) to the dungeon exit. This effectively allows blind players to move around the dungeon as if the whole thing were a simple grid of 10 by 10 rooms.
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