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Accessibility updates - Devlog #15

I've been revisiting some of the character sheets and other tools for Bug & Claw, noticing with fresh eyes some areas for improvement. There were multiple spots where I had left things quite vague, depending on explanations in the eventual reference book. In other areas, I used iconography as a shorthand, something I should know better about.

Why should you go easy on iconography in design?

OK, maybe I'm being harsh on myself. The major points are two:

  1. Not all icons are ubiquitous
  2. Even if folks do understand the icon, folks using assistive technology like screen readers need something to fall back on

In digital products we often mitigate these issues by:

  • Using more ubiquitous iconography
  • Pairing icons with text
  • Having a graceful replacement for an icon or other image that only a screenreader or other assistive technology will read
  • Not using icons at all, replacing things with text
  • Simplifying or changing the design entirely

The biggest change I've done for the sheets so far is go through and replace some icons with text. For example, inventory management had "unlock" icons for certain columns. This was meant to communicate that with certain abilities or strength modifiers you could carry more. It didn't seem clear enough for me, though, so for now I've replaced the icons with the actual values that would unlock them.

Leaving out guesswork

Another big change also had to do with inventory management. I had left it very vague how and where to calculate your gon (Bug & Claw's currency). I was going to explain to leave a pile/square in your inventory for it. In hindsight, I think I was trying too hard to emulate old-school CRPGs. I've adjusted this so there's a clear place on the sheet to tally your gon and will be looking to make values and gon more clear in the game itself.

I also went through several parts of the game and lore written so far and tried to simplify language. Anywhere I had invented a term I debated with myself if it was really necessary. So far, "gon" isn't gone, but we'll see after further editing. Other terms on the character sheet have been simplified and I'm trying to find creative ways to give the sheet enough real estate to spell words out in their entirety instead of using acronyms and abbreviations. I think all of these efforts add up to saving the player/reader cognitive load and guesswork, as well as aiding in accessibility.

The sheets remain prototypes, but I want the general layout and terms used to make sense.