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Old 04-15-2008, 11:13 AM   #1
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Visual Impairment-related features at Achaea

We've added several features designed to make life easier in Achaea for those with visual impairments that use screenreader software.

We have an active community of those with visual impairment, with and without screen readers, and we began working with them not long ago to see what we could do to help out. It was all brought on, interestingly enough, by our recent additions related to ships and seafaring.

In Achaea, most activity takes place without a 'map', which is usually good for those who use screen readers. With a map, the screen reader software simply has nothing to read - viz. blue square, blue square, red @ sign, red @ sign, next line (etc).

The wilderness, and our more recent mapping feature, had been the only places displaying a 2-d top-down ascii-graphical representation of the surrounding area. That changed with the introduction of ships and seafaring, which use the ascii-graphical map extensively.

To help our budding ship captains, we've added a few ways to get a somewhat more readable representation of the otherwise useless overhead map. You can now check for the presence or absence of obstacles in given directions, and take bearings to known seamarks (sea-based versions of landmarks). So if you need to know the direction and distance of something nearby, you can by taking bearings, and the result is in a screen-readable format.

Add in a few little changes with how maps are displayed (those using screen readers can configure the map display off altogether) and how the prompt line works, and that's about it.

It's not that hard to add these things, we've discovered, as long as we get input from the proper target audience (that active group I mentioned earlier). Plus it's a heck of a lot of fun to give folks the things they need to avoid frustration and have a bit more fun.

We welcome your input too, if you're a screen-reader user. Welcome, it would be!
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