It’s important to remember that creating a blind or low vision friendly game doesn’t end with the game itself. Accessibility has to be considered across the entire user experience, starting from when a person buys a ticket all the way through to when they leave your venue.
Both the browser and mobile versions of your website need to be accessible. People might be accessing your website in any number of ways, including via a screen magnifier or a text-to-speech screen reader. Common issues include images without alt-text that get missed by screen readers, long pages that aren’t structured with headings making them difficult to navigate, and links and buttons missing accessible descriptions . This is a topic beyond the scope of this website, but thankfully there are many great online resources for this kind of design.
- User Zoom has a great guide on the topic. Website link.
- W3 is the Web Accessibility Initiative and their website goes even deeper. Website link.
Like your website, your ticketing platform also needs to be accessible. The Owl Job was a bit easier to design for since it only had limited 3 day runs, with 15 sessions per run. So rather than use a calendar layout, which can be a bit tricky to use with a screen reader, I listed all the of sessions’ dates and times as plain text like so:
- 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Friday August 16
- 7:00pm to 8:00pm, Friday August 16
I tried many different ticketing providers and many were quite difficult to navigate using a screen reader. For example highlighting April 6 on the calendar, it will only read out “6.” Ticketleap (website link) was one of the few that does let you list sessions in a text-only format.
Whatever ticketing platform you use, it’s also important to test that it works correctly for different users. This may include hiring a Disability Access Consultant, who can also be useful in assessing other aspects of your game.
Simply put, you need to be able to reach your audience. It’s great that you’ve made a sightless escape room, but you’ve got to make sure that the people you’re trying to cater for actually find out about your game. So you may need to reach out beyond your usual advertising circles. In my first run of The Owl Job, I had some help from Dialogue In The Dark who got in touch with Guide Dogs Victoria and from there, as some of my players told me, it ended up circling in newsletters and Facebook groups. Your local area likely has different groups and resources, so you’ll need to seek them out and ask around.
Your venue likely has a number of access considerations. You’ll need to visit your venue and inspect not just the space in which players’ will be playing your game, but also look at other spaces that players’ will be passing through, including your entrances and bathrooms.
Don’t just take a venues’ word for it that they’re accessible. It’s not unheard of for a venue to claim to be (for example) wheelchair accessible, only to have overlooked the step at the front door.
You’ll also likely to put in a lot more extra effort in finding a suitable venue. So know exactly who your audience is and what features you need to be mindful of. This is actually a big topic and there are a lot of good resources out there. A good starting point it this document from the Hepburn Shire Council – link here.
Following advice from Vision Australia (website link) we provided 4 different types of waivers.
- Large print
- Small print
- Digital version
The digital version was basically just a webpage, but it was very useful because it was accessible either from the laptop at the venue (that had a screen reader installed) or via people’s own mobile phones.
The latter was particularly useful, since people will generally already have their phones set up in a way that best suits their needs. So we could just tell them the URL and they’d pop it into their phone’s browser.
Producing Braille versions of our waivers was fairly affordable and straightforward as we hired a company to do the translation as well as the printing of the Braille waivers themselves.
Here’s a list of Braille service providers available in Australia – website link.
We used Information Alternatives and can highly recommend them.