the blind GM rides again

Hey folks. I know it’s been a while since my last update. Honestly I have been having some trouble finding things to write about. I’ve already talked about the kinds of issues I deal with in the hobby, as well as reasons why you might want us in your game. My next planned update was going to be about going to cons and what I found there, but since this would necessitate actually going to said cons, my limited cash flow made this unfeasible this year. So with the con option out of the picture for now I was at a loss. I had primed the pump, so to speak, with my last 2 entries, but was still coming up dry. And then it hit me. At first I didn’t want to write just another play experience blog, complaining about rules and telling anecdotes about my players. But I did some thinking, and realized that that was precisely what I needed to be writing about. If my goal is to bring awareness to the issues us blind folks deal with in gaming, then I need to tell you about what my gaming is like. Please forgive me if I am the last person to arrive at this conclusion. In about A week I will be starting up a Dresden files game, and in about a month I will be starting a pathfinder one, and this blog will be the place I discuss them. It will have all the regular elements of almost every other gaming blog, but it will also have the issues we come up against, and hopefully the solutions we find. It will have guest entries from some of my players to provide differing viewpoints about how things are going, and best of all it will be the perfect tool for getting my message out there to as many people as possible. So in the coming weeks and months when you are reading about great warriors cleaving goblins, vampire detectives stalking the streets of tempi Arizona, or dashing spies foiling Nazi plots, remember the warriors detectives and spies just may be totally blind.

Finally I am considering either at the end of each blog entry, or perhaps as a separate entry entirely,, compiling a list of accessible games and gaming tools me, my players, and hopefully my readers, bring to my attention, and the links on where to obtain them. But this promises to be an evolved and sometimes expensive process, so it will be something I do only if I receive some indication of interest from readers.
Now I will leave you in the way I always do, with my request. if you would like to see the gaming companies start making products accessible to the blind, please contact them and tell them so. thank you.

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why you want us in your game

hello everyone and by everyone of corse I really mean all 5 of you, this is my long overdue third blog entry. In my last attempt at blogging I made an obvious statement, that the table top gaming industry is in a decline this I am sure is not news to anyone, so I am going to address that issue here today. For those of you who are now expecting some treaties on what we need to do as gamers and producers to revitalize the hobby I recommend you read my mission statement again because that is not what I am here for, no in this entry I am goingto address a very small demographic all be it one that I personally am a part of but remember every person or group we bring in to the hobby the more we strengthen it and perhaps if we as gamers and producers work to include more groups we can turn the tide, also summon captain planit or something but I digress. I am going to explain today why you as a gamer and then you as a producer want a blind person in your game and in a larger sense in your hobby.
The first reason I will get out of the way now so we can all dismiss it right off and move on to the ones that actually might sway your opinions. Helping the blind and indeed any other group to participate in something is the right thing to do. Did this change anyones mind? I didn’t think so, if it did good for you. I will now ask the question why did this not occure to you sooner? For the rest of us we can move on to the important self interest stuff.
We read, ok this needs a little clarification to make sense. First I will not bother to point out the obvious that reading provides great inspiration to those of us who participate in what amounts to group storytelling and instead point out that with travel being difficult and television and films only having limited appeal most of us blind folks read a lot. And due to the failure of most schools to provide a rounded education we tend to focus on the arts. And if you can’t see the benefit of a flud of artists joining the game then perhaps you want to take a moment to think about the fact that you may actually have found the only way to play dungeons & dragons wrong.
The next we tend to think descriptively. I am sure I don’t need to explain that the blind experience the world a little differently, we go through the world with much less sensory input then everyone else. This tends to make us descriptive we may not spend forever describing how blue someone’s eyes were but because we go through life with out sight it forces us to lern to form mental pictures of everything. If nothing else this may actually give us an advantage in a hobby where a lot of the action lies in the players ability to imagine and then explain an action to others around a table. Just take a moment how often does a GM describe a dragon as no more then a bit of the descriptive text and then some tripe about his impressive size and then show you a picture or in the worst of cases a simple painted or unpainted mini. While I can reasonably say that very few blind players will present you with some bit of art to give you an idea of what that dragon looks like and can with little reservation say he or she will not be painting a mini that person if given a chance may explain how the dragons scails are chipped from meny previous incounter with adventurers how its face is marred by the collected soot of a thousand jets of flame and it’s breath reeks of a charnel house. Note like anyone else however it may take some time for a blind player to come out of there shell enough to share there mental images with the group. Further note if a blind player produces a highly detailed painted mini that they claim to have painted themselves there is a good chance they are not blind.
My next point Is for both players and developers remember MUDs we do hell we are still playing them. For those who don’t know what a MUD is I recommend you go find out, go on we’ll wait. Ok there takeing to long someone fill them in when they come back I have better things to do. Well MUDs are still around and a very large part of the reason for that is us. I will not go so far as to say the only reason but it is no secret that the blind make up a very large part of the MUD community and in most cases tend to be the top players in any given game. We are helping to keepit alive in short and we can do the same for table top with just a little help.
And now to the developers we can help to keep your industry afloat we as a community represent millions world wide meny with little else available for active entertainment and if you can tap into any part of that it can only help your company and really the best part is you don’t even have to market specifically to us just make your materials available we will do the rest. You will find us to be a surprisingly large and devoted customer base and really the first person to take advantage of that will reap the most from us
Ok well that is it I have not covered all the reasons you might want us around but I think I have hit on most of the big ones in my longwinded and rambling sort of way and as by the time I say good by I will have written well over 1000 words with far to little punctuation. I will leave you with my request if you feel that the game developers should work to include the blind a little more please contact them and let them know this is an issue you feel strongly about.
You know what tell them even if you don’t, it is the right thing to do.

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Greetings From The Blind GM

I will say this first off while there are barriers to people with visual disabilities playing games like dungeons and dragons these barriers are mostly artificial; the first and most obvious is accessing the rules. I bring this one up first because in this digital age this problem should be nonexistent but sadly it is. the major one. While most games these days do have digital options for the systems most of these are made inaccessible, part of this problem is developers simply being lazy. It would be relatively easy to make a pdf that contained text rather then simply the image of text. Some readers here won’t understand the difference while others will see it as a difference with out a distinction. to the former i will just say the difference is fairly major but i won’t go into it here, to the latter to most people it is true that there really is no distinction as you can read either just as well but for some namely people using a screen reader to us an image of text is useless the screen reader needs text to work with. let me put it like this if your computer can’t identify the text then neither can the screen reader. some will say “but i am sure there is some good reason why some game developers make there pdf files that way” and i am sure you are right but making a pdf with text rather then images does not take up more time or cost anymore money so what ever that reason is it can’t be one of the two major ones that businesses use when determining the viability of a product format. the second is in a lot of cases even if the pdf does contain actual text the protections placed on the pdf make it useless to screen readers i have a little more understanding towards the companies on this one but there has to be a way of protecting there product with out making it unusable to the blind, i don’t know what that is but i am sure with a little work we can find one.

the easiest solution to this is probably web based i know for a fact that wizards of the coast offers most if not all there materiel for the fourth edition of dungeons and dragons on line and i feel they should be commended for this but we again come back to the issue of text being presented as an image. most of the site is moderately accessible but the information is still unusable because while i can see all the text and even most of the descriptions anything presented in a chart is still just an image. i am not quite sure why they have done it that way they obviously have an actual chart somewhere they had to make the image would it have been so hard to put that up on the site. but i digress i still feel that a web based solution still may be the way to do it we could pay for content if there is a lot of frequently updated or new content then perhaps a monthly subscription or a system where we pay for just the things we actually want.
with that rather ham fisted transition i come to the issue of money, the table top gaming industry is in a decline and has been for years making your products available to a new group of customers at little or no cost can only help. as it stands me and other blind gamers are mostly sticking to games with a thorough OGL and a web based SRD, for games like pathfinder we can even do it right from the paizo website so even though they may not be getting our money for buying the books/PDF they at least get add revenue for us. but i really do want to perches from paizo wizards and any other game developer producing a quality product.
now i will end this post in the way i intend to end all my posts from this blog, with a request if you would like to see the gaming companies start making products accessible to the blind pleas contact them and tell them so. thank you.

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the mission of the blind gm

i am creating this blog to discuss the issues concerning blind people and gaming. specifically table top gaming as that is my passion. first off i will say there are some barriers that make even this kind of gaming difficult for those of us with a visual impairment my goal is to identify these barriers bring awareness to them and hopefully help find solutions.

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