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This is a page of accessibility resources for many different kinds of games with a focus in tabletop role-playing games.

Many of the contributions for this page came from Modifier Podcast’s Accessibility Resources, the Accessiblility in Tabletop RPGs panel that happened at GeekGirlCon 2017, and recommendations by individual community members. If you know about additional resources that should be added to this list, please share them in the comments.

 

Areas of Accessibility to Consider for Tabletop Games

Here is a list of four areas of accessibility to consider as you start a conversation with your gaming group about accessibility needs:

1) Find out what kinds of game systems are going to work for the participants, keeping in mind things like game complexity, how much math is needed to play, game pieces with small font, and small pieces that require fine motor skills.

2) What types of content should be avoided, keeping in mind things like phobias, triggers, overall tone, how much oppression is in the game world, how much violence is in the game, whether or not it is possible for characters die, and whether or not the game includes conflict between player characters. It can also help to go over content that players want to be in the game.

3) Choose a gaming location that is accessible to all, keeping in mind things like physical accessibility, the sensory aspects of the space like how loud is it and if there are lights in people’s faces, seating options, and whether or not food will be available to players.

4) Social dynamics during the game are also important and there are a number of social systems that can increase access such as check-ins, regular plot recaps, breaks, buddy note takers, online notes, and systems for editing game content as play happens (Script Change RPG Tool and the X-Card System).

 

Podcasts that Discuss Accessibility in Tabletop Role-playing Games:

Unfamiliar Heroes 0 – Foundations and Ground Rules: Episode zero of my Unfamiliar Heroes podcast series which includes a discussion of disability representation, the reasons why I feel that this project is so needed, the ways that participants who live at the intersections of oppression are centered in this project, and eight game ground rules which are designed to keep games accessible and inclusive.

Unfamiliar Heroes Series: Using tabletop role-playing games to create new representations of disabled, sick, and neurodiverse people. This is an actual play podcast series that samples multiple different game systems. Most games tend to be light and humorous.

Get Acquainted with the Unfamiliar Heroes – Part 1: A conversation on the Modifier Podcast that focuses on addressing the needs of players and considering how accessible your game system itself is.

Get Acquainted with the Unfamiliar Heroes – Part 2: A conversation on the Modifier Podcast that focuses on mechanics that aim to recreate or facilitate these diverse experiences, and things to consider when playing a diverse character.

S03 E06: Fay Onyx – Writing Alchemy: On I Am Hear from the RPG Casts network.”Fay and I talk about hir show and website, Writing Alchemy, how important accessibility in RPGs and RPG Podcasting is, the importance of checking our language, and what it means to be neurodivergent and the ever-evolving language in our society. We also chat about hir upcoming game, Magic Goes Awry.”

Leveling Up – S2E2 – Making Gaming Accessible: A conversation on the Leveling Up Podcast about Unfamiliar Heroes, Magic Goes Awry, and ways to ensure our game tables are accessible in every way to a diverse group of players.

Accessibility with Elsa S Henry: A conversation on the Modifier Podcast about gaming with a disability and the many ways games can be made more accessible and inclusive for all players.

(More) Accessibility With Aser & Megan Tolentino: A conversation on the Modifier Podcast with blind gamer Aser Tolentino and his wife Megan who have a wealth of knowledge to share when it comes to tools and tips for making, running, and playing accessible games.

One Shot Episode 128: Starting at 38 minutes and 20 seconds there is a conversation with Tanya DePass of “I Need Diverse Games” about increasing diversity in gaming (Note that this conversation includes a few ableist words and does not include any specific discussion of disability).

 

Links to Resources:

General resources:

List of Podcasts by Disabled People: Erin Hawley has compiled a growing list of podcasts by disabled people, includes short podcast descriptions.

The Geeky Gimp:Comic, TV, movie, and game reviews from the perspective of a disabled geek.

Illuminating Spaces with Elsa S Henry: An Illuminerdy series article about how to make your games and gaming spaces accessible to all.

 

Tabletop role-playing games:

Addressing Ableism in Tabletop Role-playing Games: This series aims to identify ableism in the core content of tabletop role-playing games, including game mechanics and central setting elements, with a focus on providing multiple different options for ways that participants can alter these games to reduce or remove this ableism.

New Player Information: I was having trouble finding an article with a good overview of tabletop role-playing games for beginners (all the ones I found included jargon), so I wrote my own.

Accessibility in Tabletop Gaming: A thorough overview of game accessibility for many types of gaming groups made from the Accessibility in Tabletop RPGs panel that happened at GeekGirlCon 2017.

Lasers & Feelings Hacks: A list of free, short, rules-light games that are available in a wide range of genres.

No Dice? No Problem: Article by Lydia Rivers about web-based options for making tabletop role-playing games more accessible.

Find Games to Join: Roll20 makes a free online tabletop for playing a variety of tabletop games and they provide a resource for people who want to connect and find groups to play with.

D&D Disability Mechanics: A list of in-game mechanics for a number of different disabilities created by sleepyspoonie for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition.

D&D 5th Edition Character Book: An eight page booklet that is less overwhelming and easier to use than a standard Dungeons and Dragons character sheet.

 

Social Accessibility:

The Same Page Tool: This tool is designed to facilitate an explicit discussion of game play expectations and preferences.

Gaming Group Social Contracts: This is a discussion about formal social contracts for gaming groups which covers both logistics and game play. The goal of these contracts is to make social expectations explicit.

 

Emotional Accessibility:

Safe Hearts: This article by Avery Alder is a guide to boundaries and vulnerability designed for the Monsterhearts role-playing game, but much more broadly applicable to any game with intense subject matter.

Safety Tools Summary: The Breakout Toronto convention has a great Safety Tools page that summaries many of the different safety tools they use for board games and tabletop role-playing games.

The Luxton Technique: Most emotional safety tools focus on removing triggering and upsetting content, however this process can be harmful for some people. This article explains why and presents an alternative technique that makes space for traumatic experience and centers the trauma of players in storytelling (for example, giving them power over the way the story situation resolves).

Script Change RPG Tool: This article by Brie Sheldon outlines an accessibility toolbox that provides ways for dealing with intense, upsetting, or triggering topics in role-playing games by doing things like pausing, rewinding, fast forwarding, and going slow through sensitive topics (frame-by-frame). Script Change provides multiple options for addressing things and incorporates some of the ideas from The Luxton Technique.

X-Card: This article by John Stavropoulos details an accessibility tool that allows game participants to pause action to quickly edit out content that they are uncomfortable with.

Lines and Veils: This is a tool for setting boundaries at the beginning of a game about content that won’t be in the game (this is called a line) and content that will be skipped over so that it isn’t explored in detail (this is called a veil).

Cut and Break: These are safewords that allow players to stop (cut) or slow down (break) and change direction or de-escalate the current situation. They come out of the Nordic Larp community where cut is “kutt” and break is “brems.”

Support Flower: Also called Consent Flower, this is “a non-verbal affirmative-consent player support tool for tabletop gaming that allows for player to communicate boundaries without the feeling like they are disrupting the game.” The idea of this tool is that by tapping different words or colors players and game masters can communicate what direction they want play to go in as play happens.

We Are Not Therapists: Gaming and Trauma: This article by Blue of Bluestockings explores responsible ways to engage with personal triggers and trauma in tabletop gaming

Why Player Consent and Collaboration Are Vital: This article by Oren Ashkenazi discusses areas of storytelling in role-playing games where player consent and collaboration are particularly important

 

Blind, Low-Vision, and Sight-Limited Access:

Blind Accessible Games: 64oz Games sells accessibility kits for many popular tabletop board and card games that “allow both blind and sighted players to play together with a retail product”

DOTS RPG Project: “We have created our own Braille Polyhedral and Fate dice and are continuing to translate various rulebooks into Braille”

ArtsCow Custom Printed Playing Cards: Useful for printing large print cards to modify games so that they are accessible to people with low vision

Rainbow Galaxy High Viz Dice Set: One option for dice with large, bold numbers on a rainbow of dice

3D Printed Braille Dice: 64oz Games sells a range of 3D printed braille dice

Essential Android App List and Essential iOS App List: There are many smart phone apps that can increase accessibility for different aspects of gaming, including magnification apps and text-to-speech apps that can read photographs. This website has a general list of useful apps, some of which will be helpful for gaming. Please keep in mind that this list only offers one app for each category, but there are often other options out there if the suggested app doesn’t work for you.

 

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Access:

Illuminerdy’s RPG Sign Language by Bill Paulson: An ongoing YouTube series that teaches signs for role-playing games

Otter.ai: Ten hours of free, real-time audio transcription per month (you get more hours if you pay $10 per month for premium), note that there will be errors in the transcripts, but it will gradually improve as it learns over time

 

Representation:

Trope of the Week Series: Harmful patterns in the representation of disability, how to know if you are doing them, and what to do differently.

May I Play a Character from Another Race?: This article by James Mendez Hodes gives a great overview of how to respectfully play a character outside of your own demographics.

Gender at the Gaming Table: “This is an index of essays about how to handle gender in tabletop roleplaying games, and particularly for game masters who want to run an inclusive, representative game.” This series of articles by M Grant focuses on trans and nonbinary experience.

RPG Casts: A directory of role-playing game podcasts with marginalized participants, “We make it easy to find pods featuring women, non-binary people, LGBTQ+, people of colour, women of colour, and people with disabilities. Currently at over 400+ pods listed.”

Podcasts In Color: A directory of podcasts by people of color. They have sections for both Blerd/Nerd podcasts and Gaming podcasts.

Diverse Gaming Lists: “Helping people find games that reflect them” by creating lists of games where different identities are represented well

Different Games Collective: Organizes an annual conference “on diversity and inclusiveness in games” in Brooklyn, as well as a blog and some smaller events in other cities, note that their facebook page seems more current than the main website

I Need Diverse Games: An organization dedicated to creating community space where they “bring projects, works and research by marginalized folks to light” and “discuss, analyze and critique identity and culture” in games (video games focus)

Medievalists of Color: MoC “is a professional organization of a diverse group of scholars working across the disciplines in Medieval Studies,” and their website has articles, workshops, events, and a great resources section which highlight the presence of people of color in medieval culture and history

 

Tabletop Role-playing Game Systems Designed to Be Accessible

Please note that because of the diversity of disability, access needs vary. These games were designed with accessibility in mind, but that doesn’t mean that all people will find them equally accessible. Some games may be a better fit for a particular person’s access needs than others.

Critical Core: “The tabletop game that helps kids on the autism spectrum build confidence and social skills, one dragon at a time.” The ruleset for this game is adapted from D&D 5th Edition and “experienced gamers will be able to integrate Critical Core into their favorite platform.” This game is designed to be accessible to people on the autism spectrum and to people who are new to role-playing games.

Dead Scare: “DEAD SCARE is a tabletop roleplaying game by women, about women and children killing zombies in McCarthy-era America. It’s based on Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker, and combines subverted 1950s American idealism with a blood-spattered zombie apocalypse.” This game was created by prominent disability activist, Elsa S. Henry, and includes options for disabled characters.

Turn: “Turn is a slice-of-life supernatural roleplaying game about shapeshifters in small, rural towns who struggle between their beast and human sides in a quiet drama, while trying to find balance and community. ” Emotional accessibility tools are incorporated into game design.

Magic Goes Awry: A high fantasy role-playing system that is light on rules and heavy on magical mayhem. My goal in creating this game was to capture the fun of Dungeons & Dragons in a game that was free and accessible to a much wider range of people. I created this game to have little math, fewer things to keep track of, and more room for creativity, while still having enough options and detail for people to create a diverse range of fantastical characters with exciting abilities.

 

Board Games:

Meeple Like Us – Boardgame reviews and accessibility teardowns:Meeple Like Us is a board game review blog with a strong focus on the accessibility of tabletop games

 

Live Action Role-Playing:

Access: Larp: A blog containing access guides for LARP players and organizers

Golden Feather Initiative: A blog dedicated to “safety & social justice in LARPing communities”

 

Video Games:

The AbleGamers Foundation: A nonprofit that “aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video games.”

AbilityPowered: “Guides, Tips, and Reviews by a disabled gamer for disabled gamers” focusing on video games, includes text and video options.

 

Information for Podcasters:

Making RPG Podcasts Accessible: This article covers what accessibility is, what ableism is, different experiences of disability that are important to know about, how to make a podcast accessible to disabled audience members, techniques for including disabled participants, how to deal with game systems that don’t handle disability well, how to create disabled player characters that are respectful representations of disability, and negative patterns of representation to avoid.

Content Warnings Will Help Your Podcast: Here’s Why and How to Do Them: A short article that gives a solid overview of the benefits of content warnings and how to do them.

Podcasting How To: For those situations where it is hard to find all of the steps for doing something in one place, I’ve made my own personal step-by-step guides. I’ve decided to make some of these available here in the hope that they will make it easier for others.

 

Information for Designers:

Disability Consultants for Geeky Projects: From tabletop role-playing games to comics to board games to twitch channels, there are lot new and exciting geeky projects being produced by creators big and small. However many of these projects aren’t fully accessible to disabled participants and audience members. The best way to change this is to get people with disabilities involved in creating these projects. The Disability Consultants for Geeky Projects List is designed to raise awareness of the many people doing this important work, help people connect with each other, and help creators find disability consultants who are a good fit for their projects.

Games Accessibility Guidelines: “A straightforward reference for inclusive game design,” information for designers that is broken up into basic, intermediate, and advanced categories.

Designing Games For Accessibility: A YouTube video with subtitles (there are a few important errors in these subtitles) that covers some important aspects of making tabletop role-playing games accessible to marginalized participants and participants with disabilities

Making TTRPGs More Accessible to People with Dyslexia: This is a three part series, covering layout, writing style, and information processing. This link goes to the first article in the series.

Designing for Disability: A YouTube series with subtitles about designing video games for players with disabilities.

Sekiro: Accessibility in Games is About Far More than ‘Difficulty’: An article about video games where “An accessibility expert weighs in on how accessibility in games is vital, and ‘difficulty’ is relative.”

The Top 3 Requests for Accessible Gaming: An article about ways to improve video game accessibility

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) from W3C: “Strategies, guidelines, resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities”

Making Games More Accessible: A short article plus links.

General ADA Information: All the legal bits concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act.

2 Responses to “Accessibility Resources for Gaming”

  1. Abby says:

    Wow!! Thank you so much for providing these resources. As a DM for a very diverse group, I am always trying to be sure that I am inclusive of everyone. I really love this.

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