Wanderment is like every other platform game you've ever played, except that you're a cat, and you're blind, and the world around you is comprised of shimmering fragments of sound.
The goal of the game is simple: you're trying to find your way home. You move through the world like an iridescent comet's tail, which coalesces every time you pause into the distinct shape of a kitty. While occasional platforms that appear red and solid in the distance—perhaps from memory—for the most part you navigate the world through echolocation, your sounds and movements reflecting back from the surfaces around you to produce a diffuse, glittery map of the world.
Every time you jump into the air, you land with a tiny chime that sends a splash of pixelated light towards the walls and chasms around you. Sometimes, auditory cues suggest more details: the low mutterings of human conversation, or the whistle of a referee. Are you in a park? At a soccer game? Is that a fountain? While it's not essential to finding your way to the finish, these little touches spark the imagination and expand the world in complementary ways to your little synesthetic shimmers.
Created by Andyman404 in only 72 hours for a game jam, Wanderment is lovely but brief. You can finish in about ten minutes if you'd like, although part of the fun is, well, wandering. Although inspired by two games from indie developer Jord Farrell—the frenetic Leak Before You Look and the moody cat meandering of Goodnight—Wanderment feels entirely distinct, and well worth a try.
The game is currently free to play on Gamejolt for both Mac and PC.
Shubham Banerjee, a seventh grader in Santa Clara, California, invented a Lego Mindstorms-based Braille printer called the Braigo. He's declared his intention to release his printer -- which costs about $350, much less than traditional $2000+ Braille printers -- as open source hardware so that it can be improved by a wider developer community.
Read the rest
ZDNet's Rupert Goodwins is going blind. Most of us will lose a substantial fraction of our visual acuity, should we live long enough. As a service to his readers, Goodwins is documenting the way that technology can be adapted for people with visual disabilities. It's a fascinating story: as he says, "there's never been a better time to go blind: we are busy converting the world to digital, and digital is supremely easy to convert."
But that's only true as long as there's no DRM in the mix. Once DRM gets into your information stream, your ability to adapt what's happening on your screen to work with your disability is severely curtailed. As Goodwins discovered, the world of ebooks is especially hard on people with visual disabilities.
...[I]t turned out I needed Adobe Digital Editions to 'manage my content'. Some fun later — you have to download it from a particularly brain-dead web page with teeny-tiny dialog boxes that were broken in Chrome and invisible in Firefox — and I had a large blob of code to install on my Windows box.
It tried, of course, to force me to give Adobe my email and other details for the 'Adobe ID' that it assured me I needed to get full functionality. I demurred... and was confronted by a user interface that was tiny white text on a black background. Unreadable. Options to change this? If they exist, I couldn't find them.
Getting this far had taken me half an hour fighting my way through a nest of misery and frustration with broken eyes and a sinking heart. Along the way, I'd been bombarded by marketing messages telling me to "enjoy the experience" and "enjoy your book".
Reader, I wept. Marketing departments, here's a top tip: if your customer is reduced to actual, hot, stinging tears, you may wish to fine-tune your messaging.
This is the reward you get for being disabled and wanting to do the right thing. This is how the world's most splendid machine for freeing our minds from our physical shackles is itself being shackled. This is what will happen to all of you reading this as you get old. I know this, I've done the research: most of you will start to go blind before you die.
Going blind? DRM will dim your world
This video shows the process that a blind man goes through in using a particular ATM for the first time; the machine he selects is one that has a ton of assistive features that are aimed at making use easier for visually impaired people, but it's apparent that this guy -- blind film critic Tommy Edison -- has to go through a heroic effort to get through a technological ritual that most of us take for granted. I also felt for Edison in light of the advice to shield your PIN from potential hidden cameras, a task that seems to add transcendent difficulty to an already tricky task.
Blind Man vs. The ATM - Tommy Edison