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Globally the number of people of all ages visually impaired is estimated to be 285 million, of whom 39 million are blind.

World Health Organisation, 2010.

(That's 4.2% and 0.6% of the world population.)

Most videogames put a strong emphasis on visuals in their content delivery. Visually impaired gamers are largely left out.

How do I design a game to be accessible to visually impaired gamers?

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Personally I think some games are very dependant on the visual reaction to the events occurring. I would go as far as saying a large part of commercial games are driven by the visual output to the player. I would say that experimenting with a different experience, such as using sound and even touch would go a long way towards creating games for the visually impaired –  Caius Eugene Dec 8 '12 at 1:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Take a look at Game Accessibility Guidelines, lots of advice on there. Did you have something specific in mind that you wanted to design?

Caius is right in saying that there are mechanics that can't easily be adapted for blind gamers. Most can easily be improved for people with other varying degrees of visual impairment though - avoiding tiny low contrast text for example.

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I've removed your email address since you can present that in your profile if you want to make yourself available for contact. This is a Q&A site, and an invitation to talk is not part of an answer. –  doppelgreener Dec 8 '12 at 4:07

There are some genres that, I am told, work well for totally blind players.

One option is a text only interface, such as multi-user dungeons, and zork-style interactive fiction both of which are popular with sighted people like me. A user can hook them up to a braille display or a screen reader, or if partially sighted, adjust the contrast, text size, font and color.

A Google search turns up a small but creative community in audio games:

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The advent of iOS has meant an explosion in blind-accessible games. Some that are designed specifically with blind gamers in mind, such as Papa Sangre and Nightjar, and many many others where the simple visual element makes them ideally suited to someone running their finger over the screen to explore the interface, games like Hanging with Friends, Wordundrum and iAssociate 2.

That's how VoiceOver, the iOS screenreader, works - you drag your finger around the screen and it speaks out whatever is underneath your finger at the time, so it's literally just a case of making sure everything is labelled correctly.

Interesting stuff eh?

http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/iPhoneAccessibility/Accessibility_on_iPhone/Accessibility_on_iPhone.html

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Interesting indeed! For the blind, touching objects is usually the primary means for their identification. Hovering a pointer (finger or cursor) is the closest user interface analogue for touching. –  Anko Jan 14 '13 at 0:23

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