Making a Game Accessible for the Blind and Visually Impaired

What tools and methods are there available for making a game accessible for players who may be blind or visually impaired? I want to include accessibility systems like configurable keyboard shortcuts and a color-blind mode, for example; as well as making the game interface usable with a screen reader, if possible. Has anyone ever tried that or done it successfully with a Unity-based game?

Colorblind modes are a bit of a last resort, what you really want is for the game to simply be colourblind friendly from the outset. The primary way of doing that is ensuring that no information is conveyed by a colour alone - also using symbols, patterns, etc. Then also keeping an eye out for contrast issues, as depending on the type of colour vision deficiency you have certain colours will appear darker (most commonly red, so red on a black background can be problematic).

Unity doesn’t currently have a built-in colorblindness simulator, but there’s a great free external bit of software that you can use to see what your designs look like for all common forms of color vision deficiency - Color Oracle. Just sits in your system tray, click on it and will simulate CBness on whatever is currently on your screen. Really great design tool. http://colororacle.org/

getyour411 isn’t quite right about screenreaders. How much you can do with screenreaders depends entirely on how your engine interacts with and is perceived by the operating system, so it is absolutely a Unity specific question.

Normally by far the easiest way to go about screenreader compatibility is to do it for mobile games (iOS in particular), where it can be done for not too much effort, and many more game mechanics are suited to it too, thanks to the mobile screenreaders being based on touch, allowing blind players to essentially visualise the layout of the screen… compared to desktop screenreaders, which result in a simple linear view of which elements are present.

However not if you’re using Unity. Unity is sadly not compatible.

If you want blind-accessibility on mobiles in Unity your only option is to put a fair bit of investment into go the full audio game route. More info here: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DianaHughes/20131120/205346/

For desktop, it normally means interfacing with the windows accessibility API. I’m not sure if that’s possible in Unity, but there’s a workaround option that might be easier to achieve, which is to simply output text descriptions to the clipboard any time an element recieves focus or an important event occurs. That way blind gamers can use a clipboard addon for their screenreader to have all of the text spoken to them.

It’s not a standard approach so you would need to make it abundantly clear that it is possible, but for the people that find out about it, it does work - Skullgirls is now completely screenreader accessible on the PC as a result, for very little effort. Might be worth contacting Mike Zaimont about it, he’s who implemented it.

If you do want to go down the route of blind accessibility, make sure you speak to the various communities - the audiogames forums, the audyssey mailing list, and also the applevis forums too if you’re going for iOS. Blind gamers are a fantastic bunch, they’ll happily test for you and give you loads of good constructive feedback.

Do you have full GDC vault access? If so there was a panel on blind-accessibility this year.

One thing to bear in mind is that legally blind doesn’t mean no vision, most blind people have some degree of residual vision, so if you can just make it generally accessible to vision impairments you’ll still reach a fair few legally blind gamers who just play by sitting close to a large screen.

So that means things like good contrast, large elements, large clear text, and so on. You could even go as far as an option to increase contrast by disabling / fading out the background, as seen in Epic Eric, Shoot1UP, and My Ex Boyfriend the Space Tyrant.

As far as the far reaching topic of accessibility goes, it’s really not too complex, there are only really five broad types of impairments to consider, and they are all addressed in one of two ways: communicating information in more than one way, and allowing players flexibility in play style. Lots of examples of barriers and solutions for all kinds of impairments are available here: http://www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com

You can also try this code example for using Google TTS engine in Unity via a PHP script
http://gameaccessibilitycode.com/?page_id=42
/Thomas

Hi there, I hope I’m not late to the party. I know the thread is a little old, but others might have the same question and stumble upon this thread during their Google search. That’s how I ended up here.

I just finished a plugin that makes apps created with Unity accessible. The plugin recreates screen reader functionality (like VoiceOver or Android) and includes native TTS on these platforms.
You can find it here:

hi. well a keyboard short cut to turn off and disable the start screen. nvda is the only screen reader that seems to read it fine, windows narrator struggles, jaws does not read at all. okay, the tree view and selection view, nvda, jaws does not read, and windows narrator struggles. doing a gaming and digital media course from http://www.upskilled.edu.au and also a blind computer user using jaws 2018, latest update, windows 10 64 bit pro on a toshiba satellite pro laptop. and also make the able to go to the script and also have labels for the scene, some way able to hear coordinats, and able to place game and other objects, tell when it collides, etc, thanks.ps: and a set of hot keys also, to do general things, like able to pick which new game you want to build, not able to do that in the new game dialog. does need a bit of work. so if you are willing to build a scripts or scripts, fine. unity says they are developing a more user interface for the blind, but not a high priority. the only way to get them to make it mroe accessible, is through littergation, like a case having the nfb or acb represent and saying unity is breaching accessibility standards as based in the states. so, if you want to contact me my e-mail is: startrekcafe@gmail.com, for any more info. thanks. ps: nvda does work some what, but cannot read some parts of the gui. have not really exploed the other settings, as did a intro tutorial, a rolling ball game, and also had to have a sighted friend remote in and set up the external editor for visual studio, the edit and other menus, and the dialog, no keyboard short cuts.