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Old 05-12-2013, 10:59 AM   #1
Qwanta
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MUDs for the visually impaired

If there are any visually impaired folks here I'd be interested to know about your experiences with MUDs. How is your client setup? What tools do you use for speech to text and text to speech? Do you use native OS support or third party utilities? What are your frustrations if any and how could things be improved? Etc. Thanks!

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Old 05-12-2013, 11:12 AM   #2
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

I don't know personally, but we did have a visually impaired player on Atonement RPI who used text-to-voice to play, I think. I'm not sure what client he used.

I think his experience was quite good, as RPI's and MUSHes likely proceed slower than hack and slash muds. I do remember him saying that gigantic combat scenes could get spammy for him, but then again- that's par for the course for most players.
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:56 PM   #3
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

We have a 100% blind player on Aarchon .. he uses VIP Mud, and JAWS text-to-speech. Not sure if he uses a speech-to-text program as well or no. He has a simplified prompt, and has been able to do almost everything in the game that non-impaired players can do. He hasn't taken advantage of a lot of the gags we offer to reduce spam, although I'm not sure why.
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:29 PM   #4
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

hi Qwanta, there are some VI players here but I also suggest you go to audiogames.net, where you'll find a lot more VI mudders.

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Old 05-13-2013, 01:02 AM   #5
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

I understand text-to-speech, but what is the purpose of speech-to-text?
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:22 AM   #6
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

no typing / less typing would be required, with speech-to-text. In most cases it's probably faster than typing, although maybe not quite as accurate.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:04 AM   #7
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Our blind player doesn't talk about it much, but he has mentioned a lot of aliasing, text to speech. Though it does seem to be a little slow at times and those of us who know he is blind will wait for him to catch up in the conversation.

No real way around that though. Though I have wondered if he got some specialized text to braille converter if that would help.
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:20 PM   #8
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

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Though I have wondered if he got some specialized text to braille converter if that would help.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:11 AM   #9
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Most of my blind players use MUSHclient or VIP-Mud, with a handful using other clients such as MonkeyTerm or even Windows Telnet.

I previously suggested including a blind support category in the mud listings, but sadly nothing more came of it.
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:58 AM   #10
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Blind players can't really compete with sighted players. Tactical graphical interfaces, fast combat, tactical color usage, etc, make this problem worse.

So it's not only important whether a MUD has 'blind friendly' features, but also how many features it has that further the gap between blind and sighted players. An important question is how big a handicap blind players are willing to tolerate.

A web based mud might be able to be audio only, possibly with a lot of content that has been recorded in advance. I guess you'd need a good narrator. This could be an interesting challenge for sighted players.

Another problem is that some/many ? blind people have never been taught to write, so they don't know how to use a keyboard, so speech to text would be important, and a MUD would probably need to support some error handling and handle fuzzy input.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:47 AM   #11
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Alter Aeon has a lot of blind players, and the differences aren't nearly as severe as Scandum has painted. We've also only ever had one person use speech to text, everyone else can type.

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Old 05-14-2013, 11:14 AM   #12
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

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Originally Posted by dentin View Post
Alter Aeon has a lot of blind players, and the differences aren't nearly as severe as Scandum has painted.
Same here, I'm not sure where Scandum is getting his information from but it doesn't match my experience at all.
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:19 AM   #13
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Echoing what dentin said, it's the same for us at Materia Magica. One of our highest level Archons is sight-impaired, and we have a bunch of others who do boss runs, PK, etc with other sighted players.
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Old 05-14-2013, 01:49 PM   #14
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Did someone remove my post? Lol, I wrote a miniature essay on this subject, but I guess it failed to post or something. Anyhow, the highlights:
-almost no one uses speech dictation.
-Vipmud is becoming the most popular client for the blind, is non-free, and I hate it. Mushclient is 100% accessible but most blind people have trouble with it for some reason.
-There are 4 windows screen readers that are prominent: Jaws, Window-Eyes, Hal, and NVDA. Only the last is free. NVDA is gaining in popularity, and I recently switched from Jaws after 10 years. Screen reader doesn't matter to the mud designer, except that someone could test using NVDA because it's, like, free. NVDA works only with Mushclient atm, without some groundwork, and the plugin is called Mushreader.
-The mud clients are calling the screen readers directly via a bridge, which is different for each screen reader. The screen readers have no way of telling that the mud output window is special and don't automatically read it. The bridging API, built into VipMud and accessed via a plugin in Mushclient, fixes this.
-The screen readers speak insanely fast. I've not heard of anyone using braille for mudding. Recording myself mudding is on my to do list, so that I can point at just how fast it really is.
-Depending on skill level, aliases and triggers can be involved. I personally only use one: it assigns a prompt (the most recent line to begin with status: ) to a variable, hiding it from normal output, and making it readable with a hotkey. Others use more or less.
-If you provide telnet access, you're probably at least marginally accessible. Web clients can be made accessible, but no one's actually done this yet, except for Bedlam's which works only with windows 8 narrator. This would be interesting, because various solutions exist on the web to problems posed by ascii art, mainly using html tables for the same information and words instead of symbols. This would only work for smallish maps, 5x5 at the most.
-Ascii art is bad.

Last edited by camlorn : 05-14-2013 at 01:51 PM. Reason: :) is the smily face. I don't want the smily face.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:09 AM   #15
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentin View Post
Alter Aeon has a lot of blind players, and the differences aren't nearly as severe as Scandum has painted. We've also only ever had one person use speech to text, everyone else can type.
You obviously aren't going to attract analphabetic player, so the question is what percentage of the blind population is excluded, and this may be as high as 75%.

I'm also not certain to what extend a MUD could be improved when it comes to speech to text. It'd be an interesting area of research.

The gap between regular and blind players is pretty vast in my experience, to such an extend that I think a sound only MUD would draw in most blind players, though there is of course only one way to find out for real.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:41 AM   #16
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Scandum, please look around more before continuing to insult the blind. Me and quite a few other blind players have successfully played Godwars2, and if you can name a more visual mud I'd love to hear about it. Godwars2 got rid of rooms. Yes, there's an alternative interface, but it conveys the same information, just without ASCII art.
Blind players tend to be less skilled at the computer in general. This is not the fault of the blind specifically and has to do a lot with the focus on tech training being about employment instead of genuine understanding. Even so, once someone helps said player set up a mud, and teaches them some basics, said player is about as competent as someone sighted who's never played a mud before.
And, I don't know what you think a "sound mud" is, but I have a feeling that you don't know what you're talking about there either. The only method by which a "sound mud" would be remotely interesting to many is if it were basically a full-on MMO. People don't realize this, but audiogames are basically 100% games for the sighted, just no one bothered adding the graphics. Swamp is an MMO, look it up on audiogames.net. It is not like an MMO, it is not a fake MMO, it is an MMO with a server and multiplayer and all that. It gets less players than a normal MMO, but graphics could be added, it could be labelled indie, and there you go.
I suspect, whichever mud you're on, you haven't actually gotten many blind players. Your impressions and opinions of what is and is not possible for the blind are very, very incorrect. I think you need to reevaluate what the blind can do versus what you think they can do. Someone blind wrote my screen reader. Consider that for a moment, and then think about what you're saying.
it is true that throwing an ASCII map at the blind will be of no help whatsoever. It is not true that exposing the same information in another format will leave a blind person less capable at playing the game.
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Old 05-15-2013, 12:58 PM   #17
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Quote:
Originally Posted by camlorn View Post
Scandum, please look around more before continuing to insult the blind.
I think this is jumping the gun a bit. He's just saying that 'in his experience', he's seen a gap. His experience could be accurate if it's based on games that, knowingly or not, give sighted players various advantages.

I think the most Scandum is guilty of so far is lack of awareness. But all of us have some work to do in that respect.
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:41 PM   #18
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Allow me to apologize. I've been getting a large dose of "blind can't" attitude recently, for some reason, and consequently was harsher in conveying my thoughts than I should have been.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:33 AM   #19
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

Quote:
Originally Posted by scandum View Post
Blind players can't really compete with sighted players. Tactical graphical interfaces, fast combat, tactical color usage, etc, make this problem worse.
Not really true. One of our top combatants in Achaea, for instance (and our combat is fast, intense, and complicated) is blind. We have a whole clan in-game of blind players, and they compete just fine.

In Achaea, they tend to use JAWS with Mudlet, as most of our experienced players use Mudlet, whether sighted or not.


Quote:
Another problem is that some/many ? blind people have never been taught to write, so they don't know how to use a keyboard
That's not our experience, at least, though I'm sure players self-select for the features we offer. If they need that kind of fuzzy input tolerance (which we don't offer), they'll just quietly leave.
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Old 05-16-2013, 05:58 PM   #20
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Re: MUDs for the visually impaired

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Not really true. One of our top combatants in Achaea, for instance (and our combat is fast, intense, and complicated) is blind. We have a whole clan in-game of blind players, and they compete just fine.
From what I gathered Achae's combat is so fast, intense, and complicated that most people use a bot. And I assume some amount of $$ is involved to be a top combatant.

The degree to which a blind player can compete will vary per game. The real test would be a sound only MUD to determine whether competing with sighted players is frustrating enough for blind players to move to such a MUD.

It might be an interesting investment for a company like IRE, as all that's needed is two narrators (male and female) and text to speech software.
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