Updated: Jan 16, 2021
Every blog post is another chance to share all of the wonderful things that have been happening in the world of DOTS and this month is no different. From new partnerships to new projects and plans, we're still going full steam ahead! I've got lots and lots of updates for this blog post, so let's jump right in!
In a last minute bit of awesomeness, I was invited to be on a panel at PAX East at the end of March! While it didn't focus specifically on disabilities, a lot of great conversation was had around how to open up your table to more individuals and include those who may have some troubles and concerns. Check out the video below to see the recording of the panel! We will be providing a transcription for this in the near future, but Youtube's captions are fairly accurate for the time being
Critical Role is one of the biggest names in the streaming community, it's no surprise they've got a lot of eyes and ears on them. In early April, they announced they were moving from the volunteer run CR Transcript group to a paid transcription service. Just like with DOTS, volunteers have created the foundation for something great to be built. CR's decision to hire a service of professionals shows how important accessibility is to them! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them on upcoming projects, and thank them deeply for their donation on behalf of all the volunteers. Here is their blog post if you'd like to read more: https://critrole.com/cr-transcript-closed-captions-update/
On a related note with the deaf community, we're super excited to announce our newest initiative and partnership! The ASL for RPG group will be working on bringing ASL to the world of TTRPG by cataloging and creating signs! These efforts will allow easier use of ASL in game, improving the experience for deaf and hard of hearing players at the table.
Originally spearheaded for D&D 5e by Mysty Vander and Mimsy Dorsey, we've partnered with them to use our platform for good and help get the word out so more people can be involved. Signs will start off with D&D 5e terms but will eventually cover multiple different RPG systems.
Our newest position in the Guild, "Encoder", has just opened up! If you are deaf, hard of hearing, have experience with ASL, or are tied to the community through friends or family members, we could use your help! Most of the signs are created from scratch and it's all about community involvement and feedback. Click here to fill out to volunteer form!
We had a secret project through the end of March and into early April - working on transcribing the Tome of Beasts by Kobold Press! I got in touch with Wolfgang a while back since I absolutely love ToB and wanted to make sure we could add it to our library of braille books. Wolfgang signed on immediately, but wanted to keep it under wraps until he could announce it himself. Naturally the best place to do so was on his next Dragon Talk appearance! We had a few delays but somehow the amazing team of Sages we have was able to get Volume 1 completed and in his hands for the show. The details on the single volume are as follows:
-18 printed pages: title page to Andrenjinyi
- 98 pages bound into one volume of 50 individual interpoint (double-sided) braille embossed pages
- 9 of those pages are long image descriptions in braille
- 13 image descriptions written, short and long
- Rough estimate: 25 volumes to complete entire book
Here's the video recording of that episode, jumping right to where it's mentioned: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/413475453?t=01h45m30s
We're actively working on transcribing the rest of the book, and will be working on improving their PDF accessibility in the near future! Many great things will come of this, as they have so much content out there in the world both for D&D 5e as well as their own settings. Another big name in the industry leading the way in accessibility improvements!
Here's a few images showing the size comparison between the braille book and the printed book. The braille book at 50 pages is just slightly smaller than the printed book at 220 pages! We created a label for the spine of the book as well as a cover and text based title page underneath a clear braille cover for sighted individuals to be able to assist blind gamers as needed.
Another bit of fun we did recently you may have spotted on our social media accounts. In episode 131 of "Dice, Camera, Action!", Chris Perkins described the use of some tactile dice by an NPC. Anna Prosser once again spreading the love for all things DOTS gave us a shout out on air for our tactile dice, so of course we had to make Chris's creation a reality! We pushed our limits on these, learning how to make 2D images into 3D files and work with the printers on very intricate pieces. It took a little longer than anticipated, but the final version is so awesome. Now that they're in his hands, we can show them off! They were painted black with white symbols as he described, and even given a slight stone-like texture as if they were hand carved. During a meeting with the members of the Wafflecrew at PAX east, we were able to get an unpainted piece to each one of them as well, just in case Chris is feeling frisky with deciding their fate. We have apologized in advance, and are not responsible for anything Chris may do from this point forward :)
Here's the video of episode 131, starting at the mention of the dice to avoid spoilers: https://youtu.be/jCj4WkpCGXI?t=2500
Another one of our many DOTS related road trips for the coming year happened this past weekend - we made the 9 hour drive to Virginia to spend a quick weekend with Jack, the man who started it all! It was so great being able to pick his brain about things again and learn even more about D and the beginnings of the DOTS RPG Project.
Though our time in Virginia was short, we made sure to get some lessons from Jack on the braille embosser he had. When DOTS was still developing, Jack crowdfunded the purchase of a VP Columbia embosser to create braille books for D. Now that he's not directly involved with DOTS anymore, he gave us the embosser to take back to New York. Here's a short (LOUD!) video of us testing out the graphics capabilities. The video wasn't taken with the intention of posting, so it's a bit messy with random crosstalk between us. It's still a super cool thing to see come to life so we wanted to share!
Of course no graphics test would be complete without testing the DOTS Dragon himself! We didn't get to play around with all of the shading options, but for being printed as a flat gray image with black lines, it did a great job. It wasn't perfect, but it's really really close.
Being there just a few days after Jack's birthday, we had a little birthday celebration for him with some of his friends. Jack's wife Lisa got this amazing DOTS Dragon cake made from Cakes Your Way! It was so adorable, we all felt horrible eating it but it was so good. The inside was even lime green!!
This next part isn't as fun as the others, but I think it's important to keep everyone informed and to be as transparent as possible. Our 501(c)(3) status as a charity is currently still on hold. March and April have been two full months of struggling and focusing on this as we work through these issues, which has resulted in different things being delayed. Not too many details can be posted publicly without lawyers being involved, but basically we're stuck dealing with some paperwork problems. The non profit corporation paperwork was not completed correctly by the company we hired, and it is preventing us from filing our forms with the IRS for charity status. We're doing what we can to get it fixed, but it isn't an easy process. Unfortunately, not having 501(c)(3) status keeps a lot of things on hold as many organizations and companies only want to partner with us when that goes through for their own legal reasons. It is completely understandable, but frustrating to be stuck. I am very much looking forward to being done with all of this as it is completely exhausting and time consuming, but it will be worth it in the end. Hopefully the next update will have better news!
Not having official 501(c)(3) status may be slowing down some things, but it's certainly not stopping us - we've officially begun planning the development of our app! Something that has been discussed internally for a few months is now becoming a reality. Our goal is to have a tool that can be fully accessible by all gamers to make their experience at the table easier. From character sheets that are more than just a notepad document to a dice roller and voice notes, there are going to be a bunch of different features all rolled into one. At this time, there is no plan to have game specific information or resources.
If you have experience with app building (mobile, desktop, and web browser compatible) and want to be involved, send us a message!
Con season is almost upon us, and we're working on some awesome plans. Currently the biggest hopeful plan is having a booth at PAX Unplugged, but we haven't heard back about that yet. We would love to attend GenCon as well as PAX West and a few others that are still being worked on. Because of this, we're looking to do some fundraising to help cover the cost of our trips and tickets! Polling our twitter followers, it looks like people are interested in more DOTS Gear merch, so we're here to deliver!
First up is a new line of DOTS Dragon items - Companions! These 3D printed cuties are ready to sit by your side and tackle any challenge with you. They come in 4 different sizes (tiny, medium, large and mega) measuring from 0.5" (15mm) to 2.5" (65mm).
Coming soon is some other fun stuff:
- A 1.25" hard enamel DOTS Dragon pin is currently in production. The picture below is a proof showing full color front and two posts with DOTS logo on the back.
- Multiple different sets of standard 16mm polyhedral dice that have high contrast and are good for those with low vision will be added to the store soon! Colors shown are just an example, but some of them will be carried.
- Oversized 25mm polyhedral sets will also be available! We're only planning on carrying three versions so far: white ink on black, black ink on yellow, and green ink on purple to match our existing 16mm sets.
We’re also in the process of 3D modeling some new dice with numbers and special branding on the high number that can be used by fully sighted people. These prints will be cleaned and sanded but not sealed with any gloss finish to allow you to ink the numbers any color you want. Aimed more for the average gamer and dice collector, they’ll make a great conversation and awareness piece! Luckily for us they will also be a great help in fundraising as they won’t require any of the hours of meticulous work that goes in to finishing a braille set so they can be turned around much quicker.
Braille Dice are still coming to the store, once all promised sets are out to members of the DOTS Family. We don’t anticipate having them in the store soon, but should be before the end of the year. Posting to the store soon, however, will be DAMAGED braille dice. These have for one reason or another not passed the high standards necessary for useable braille dice. Some may have damaged braille, chipped edges, anything that will make them unusable to a visually impaired gamer who relies on braille. They can still be used as educational or demonstration pieces for sighted gamers, collection pieces, made into jewelry or pretty much anything else!
It's never a dull moment with DOTS! This year is going to be such a wild ride, and we're looking forward to every bit of it! Thank you for being on this journey with us and caring about improving accessibility in gaming for all individuals.
- Guild Master Jess