UPDATE: This article was updated to reflect Jack Berberette’s original role, his current status, and the non-profit status of the organization.
I’m not sure how much more clear we here at PCU can be regarding accessibility and gaming. Various staff members are persons with disabilities (PWD), we’ve written articles on the topic, and hosted panels to discuss the matter.
Our stance is clear: gaming needs to be accessible to everybody. This statement shouldn’t be controversial, especially given the benefits of gaming and how many people experience physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.
We’ve had great responses to our articles and panels which hearten us to see gamers united behind opening these hobbies to everybody.
Overall, a lot of our advice comes from personal experiences or education, like how we’ve adapted to our obstacles or information on how to include others in gaming. We’ve also directed people to various organizations, from those that provide in-depth research and programs to the blogs and videos of gamers with disabilities.
One question we stumbled on at our last panel was a simple one: what companies or organizations are providing accessibility aids and resources?
This Tabletop Tuesday we’d like to introduce you to precisely one of those organizations: the DOTS RPG Project.
DOTS began as the brainchild of Jack Berberette, who wanted to find ways to make tabletop RPGs more accessible for his friend, D. As D was blind, Mr. Berberette created dice, and worked alongside others who designed character sheets, rulebooks, and other aids, so those with visual impairment could enjoy the hobby.
Unfortunately, D passed away before the prototypes he tested (and advised on) made it to the public. Mr. Berberette also stepped down for medical reasons, but others carried on with their idea.
The non-profit organization continues its goal in D’s memory, finding new ways to make gaming accessible not only for the blind but for everybody with disabilities. Since going public in 2018, DOTS has found ways to make sure tabletop RPGs are accessible, from coordinating resources to gaming aids.
At its core, DOTS focuses on materials and aids for those with visual impairment. They sell not only braille dice in the classic styles but also tactile FATE dice and oversized dice (with large numbers that are easier to read).
DOTS also provides numerous resources, including the 3D models for their dice, which are entirely free for anyone who wishes to print their own. For those curious, their website also provides references for reading braille numbers, for those who want to translate other RPG accessories.
Although the organization is relatively new, it already has more goals and support planned.
DOTS has a blog, with links to articles on accessibility, news on the company and conventions, and the latest updates. They are also trying to gather volunteers for everything from transcribing materials to simply spreading the word.
In the future, the non-profit hopes to provide lists of accessibility friendly gaming companies and aids. Also, while they offer some 3D printing file, DOTS plans on delving deeper into 3D printing to possibly provide advice on technology and techniques.
Overall, this organization is proving to be a prime resource for accessibility in tabletop RPGs. We are glad to direct anyone interested in their materials, specifically their visual aids and accessories, to their site.
Hopefully, they will continue to expand their blogs and resources, and even branch out into other accessibility concerns; including mobility and fine motor control aids. They already made me (and other Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing people) happy by providing a written transcript of their introductory video!
Gaming belongs to the world, and nobody should be left out of these beautiful hobbies. DOTS – we thank you for your work toward bringing tabletop RPGs to everybody!
(If you’re interested in learning more about the DOTS RPG Project, in addition to their website you can follow them on Twitter (@DOTSrpg), Facebook (@DOTSRPG), Instagram (dotsrpg), and Twitch (dotsrpg).)