Concern: Accessibility for the Visually Impaired


General Discussion

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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The layout/graphics nerd in me loves the idea of making some rules functions in the rules visually dynamic, with special colors and symbols and the like. I like fancy dancy colors and symbols. However...

Two members of my gaming group are completely blind, and rely upon screenreader technology to access rules from .pdfs and the PRD (yes I know there is not a playtest PRD, just noting for general use). So when I read through any new set of rules, especially for testing, one of the first things I check is how easily I think my visually impaired friends will be able to access and learn the rules on their own.

Unfortunately, I believe this test has already notably been failed. Because of the ubiquity of the symbols and colors in certain sections, it means many rule descriptions would make no sense to my blind players, and they would not be able to reference them and learn the rules on their own (which they can easily do with most other systems; indeed one of the players is also a great and experienced GM who has taught himself many systems on his own). (I will see if my friends can download and read the pdf and report back. I haven't had time to check yet. Still the colors are going to be a problem if not the symbols.)

I don't have the kind of screenreader software they have, but at least with the limited "read aloud" capabilities of my PC, I note that the software cannot parse at all the action symbols, and of course it is not going to notice colors at all. The color-coding is also unfriendly to colorblind individuals (a red/green blind individual will not be able to differentiate easily the red versus orange, and a blue-blind person will not differentiate the blue).

I ask Paizo, for at least the final document, to please consider either alternate text readouts on their pdfs (and eventual PRD) or scrapping the visual-reliant rules factors completely.

For example, instead of an obscure symbol for "action," use a capital letter A followed by a colon for "Action." "2A" would be for 2 actions, "3A" for 3 actions, etc. Rarities should simply be noted in text (e.g., "common," "unique" etc. rather than or in addition to being color coded; if space is an issue, perhaps simply the initials, e.g., "C" for common, etc.).

I would appreciate Paizo doing whatever it can to be sure learning and playing their game is easily accessible for as many people as possible.

I apologize if this thread is redundant--I saw some of these issues touched upon in other threads, but not the accessibility issue itself brought to the forefront. It's possible, given the speed at which the playtest threads are moving, that I simply missed one, however.

Thank you for your time.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Staff said

Vic Wertz wrote:
Terminalmancer wrote:
Hmmm. Accessibility of the PDF is low, as expected--the icons don't have any text associated with them, so in the event you're using text-to-speech you can't tell what's an action, what's a reaction, and so on.
We are preparing a separate accessible version of the PDF that should be available soon.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Thanks, CrystalSeas. There is no way I would have thought to look for that in a thread entitled "Initial Thoughts." (Indeed, I'm avoiding most generic "first reaction" threads as a bit too unwieldy for me to sift through.)

I am curious as to what the solution will be for a PRD, presuming there will eventually be one.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
DeathQuaker wrote:

Thanks, CrystalSeas. There is no way I would have thought to look for that in a thread entitled "Initial Thoughts." (Indeed, I'm avoiding most generic "first reaction" threads as a bit too unwieldy for me to sift through.)

I am curious as to what the solution will be for a PRD, presuming there will eventually be one.

In response to another problem (color coding in the Playtest Rulebook) someone on staff said that color would not be used in the PF2 rulebook that way.

They're pretty aware, and I take the fact that they're putting out a Playtest Rulebook PDF that is accessible to mean that, going forward, they'll do that innately, not after-the-fact.

So I would guess that even the PRD would be accessible

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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CrystalSeas wrote:


They're pretty aware, and I take the fact that they're putting out a Playtest Rulebook PDF that is accessible to mean that, going forward, they'll do that innately, not after-the-fact.

Please do not take my concerns as presumption of bad faith on Paizo's part. (Indeed, as a sometime freelancer for Paizo I am very well aware they are deeply responsive to major concerns when brought to their attention.) Just bringing things to attention if they needed to be. Obviously I'm late to the party. (I had the audacity to go on a road trip when the playtest came out and foolishly focused on traveling and relaxing rather than jumping on reading the playtest document and posting about it at 9:01 a.m. on Thursday. I promise I won't ever be so lax again. ;) :) )

I'm sorry for wasting everyone's time.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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CrystalSeas wrote:
They're pretty aware, and I take the fact that they're putting out a Playtest Rulebook PDF that is accessible to mean that, going forward, they'll do that innately, not after-the-fact.

Yes. We'll need the community to treat the accessible version of the playtest PDFs as a playtest itself: We'll need your help understanding the issues it has so that we can improve on it with future products. We now have an opportunity to build this in from the start.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Don't worry, you didn't ^w^

(thankies CrystalSeas for linking Vic's response)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

Vic Wertz wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
They're pretty aware, and I take the fact that they're putting out a Playtest Rulebook PDF that is accessible to mean that, going forward, they'll do that innately, not after-the-fact.
Yes. We'll need the community to treat the accessible version of the playtest PDFs as a playtest itself: We'll need your help understanding the issues it has so that we can improve on it with future products. We now have an opportunity to build this in from the start.

Thanks Vic! Once it is available, I'll ask my friends to check it out and provide feedback. I'm sure they will be more than eager to check it out.

Thanks all.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
They're pretty aware, and I take the fact that they're putting out a Playtest Rulebook PDF that is accessible to mean that, going forward, they'll do that innately, not after-the-fact.
Yes. We'll need the community to treat the accessible version of the playtest PDFs as a playtest itself: We'll need your help understanding the issues it has so that we can improve on it with future products. We now have an opportunity to build this in from the start.

Can we have some context as to what didn't allow for an opportunity the last time? I may not have accessibility concerns at my own personal level, but I am curious as to those kind of developments. That way we may be able to provide better feed back for you guys


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DeathQuaker wrote:

Please do not take my concerns as presumption of bad faith on Paizo's part. (Indeed, as a sometime freelancer for Paizo I am very well aware they are deeply responsive to major concerns when brought to their attention.) Just bringing things to attention if they needed to be. Obviously I'm late to the party. (I had the audacity to go on a road trip when the playtest came out and foolishly focused on traveling and relaxing rather than jumping on reading the playtest document and posting about it at 9:01 a.m. on Thursday. I promise I won't ever be so lax again. ;) :) )

I'm sorry for wasting everyone's time.

Oh, don't apologize!!!

I happen to be in the group that was affected by the Amazon kerfuffle, so I've had extra time to hang out on the boards rather than dig into the rules book.

I didn't take your question at all to be negative. Just glad I could provide some linkage to help out. :-)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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KyleS wrote:
Can we have some context as to what didn't allow for an opportunity the last time? I may not have accessibility concerns at my own personal level, but I am curious as to those kind of developments. That way we may be able to provide better feed back for you guys

I didn't say that we didn't have an opportunity ten years ago, but for whatever reasons we didn't take it, and it's a lot harder to add accessibility features when your workflow wasn't designed for it. No more: for Second Edition, the layout and workflow will be designed with the creation of accessible PDFs very much in mind.


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10 years ago was 2008. Accessibility wasn't anywhere near as big as it is now. Nor was the technology to support it as advanced as it is now. I'd say in the last 6 years or so there's been a big push, but it is still very much a work in progress (talking generally here and not anything Paizo specific. As a former website developer this is something I have an interest in and so have educated myself more on the issue, at least in Australoa).


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I am vision impaired/partially sighted what-have-you (degenerative, genetic eye disease, yay!), and I am having a problem with the action symbols, hard to tell at a glance the difference between the 2 or 3 Action symbol.

Aside from that, regardless of quality of vision, I have never really liked icons/symbols in my RPGs, sort of cheapens it, a bit, aesthetically; aesthetics are a big deal for me with RPGs.

Overall, I have to say PF2 is not so easy on the eyes (formatting, headings, colours, symbols, order, etc, etc), at this point, I hope this is corrected.


So I'm giving this idea of "can you make the document accessible after the fact" a try. I know Paizo is working on it (thank you guys much!) but there's something to be learned from this.

So as my own small project, I'm exploring some ideas to help make a PDF accessible after the fact. I'm pretty new to this, so please bear with me. Maybe my distracted notes will help someone else.

Plus, I own a full version of Tracker's PDF XChange, and it has a lot of features! It's also only around $45, so if I can find something, it may turn into an affordable option for others. This isn't an endorsement for the software. I don't work for them, and have no associations. I just happen to like it quite a bit, though I'm far from an expert (as will become quickly apparent).

What's Worked
If your sole purpose is changing the colors to reduce eye strain, there is a way to do this. There are some downsides though, as will become apparent.

1. Open the Content pane (View > Panes > Content).
2. Then, select all Image content (Content Pane > Gear Image > Select > Images).
3. Then, Delete (Press Delete Key).
4. Open the Accessibility dialog. (File > Preferences > Accessibility)
5. Click the Override Document Colors checkbox.
6. Set the document colors to what works for you.

Other Potential Workarounds
Depending on what someone needs to do, and some creative thinking, there are bound to be other things we can accomplish. If you give me an idea, I'll be glad to test it. If you'd like to do it yourself (hands on), the "Plus" version of the software lets you use most of the features--it just attaches a watermark to some of the more esoteric options.

I've found some key features that might help in specific cases:
* The ability to OCR text inside of images*
* The ability to export to Excel

Anyhow, I know the great folks at Paizo are working on this. Thank you guys so much for that. This post is for anyone who'd like to read in the meantime, or has some old APs that could use some help when it comes to easier reading. Plus, more minds working together are better than the poor one I've got, haha.

* When you select an individual image, the option to OCR it comes up. This does not happen with many images selected. However, you can OCR Pages as a general option. I'm not sure if this does the images as well.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
10 years ago was 2008. Accessibility wasn't anywhere near as big as it is now. Nor was the technology to support it as advanced as it is now. I'd say in the last 6 years or so there's been a big push, but it is still very much a work in progress (talking generally here and not anything Paizo specific. As a former website developer this is something I have an interest in and so have educated myself more on the issue, at least in Australoa).

These are good points! I just wanted to add that the push for Accessibility started even earlier than that. It's just one of those things that takes time to get the message out.

One of the big pushes within the USA happened at universities. This had to do with how Titles II and III of the ADA affected public/government funding if they did not provide access. The U's began to find that if their pages weren't accessible, they lost public money.

For documentation though, PDFs were/are a nightmare. Adobe's Accessibility features were still an add-on/afterthought at the time, and clumsy besides. Because see: nightmares and the push at the time to digitize old content, this created an issue with existing PDF archives. CIS vs CID scanners contributed to the issue (CIS has a shallower depth of field, so if the paper was bent--say because of a spine, it was goodbye text). Professional archiving is a thing, man.

Some fun history: Some of Cisco's best testers were the blind community. There were conventions in Dallas in the early 2000s/late 1990s and likely before. They discovered that making something accessible just made it easier to use for well, everyone.

In fact, one of the things that made d20srd.org so successful at the time was because it was well laid-out and simple to use. That happened because of its focus on accessibility.

I'm not saying it, but I guess I am, is that potentially one of the biggest, untapped resources for the PF playtest will/would be blind gamers, or those with visual impairments.

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