Updated: Dec 31, 2020
IT'S SUBMITTED!! IT'S FINALLY SUBMITTED!! It's taken too many long months (four!!) to get the corrections made to the articles of incorporation. Only after getting assistance from multiple lawyers, organizations, registered agents, the BBB, and even some general and district attorneys in Delaware were we able to get anywhere. It's unfortunate that things had to be brought to the level they were, but it had gotten out of control. Thankfully, with the threat of legal issues for their business, the owner of the company got in touch with me directly and fixed the few typos in a few hours. Within a week, I had updated articles of incorporation that accurately reflect what we're working towards: 501c3 status instead of 501c6. For those who may not know the difference: "A nonprofit organization organized and operated for charitable purposes may be exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code while a nonprofit organized and operated to promote the common business interest of its members and not to engage in regular business activities ordinarily carried on for profit may be exempt under Section 501(c)(6) of the Code." Now with those typos fixed, I was able to fill out the application without any issues. It's quoted to take a minimum of 30 days to hear back from the IRS whether it was approved or not, but potentially up to 90 days. The waiting game is hard, but at least it's (almost) at the end. There's still a few more things to get fixed paperwork wise once the approval comes through, then maintaining all the necessary meetings and records, but it will absolutely be worth it. Having full fledged 501c3 status opens up so many doors for working with companies and other organizations. Things can only get better!
We've been hard at work printing, sanding, and finishing our braille dice to donate to DOTS Family members. If we keep up at our current pace, we should have 10 complete RPG sets out by the end of July! Our website will be updated with the names of those locations as we get everything set up and out to them. Keep an eye out for some social media posts with updates as they happen
The folks at D&D Beyond have been wonderful to work with regarding the accessibility issues on their website. Since January, we have identified and solved multiple issues for screen readers such as breaks in text mid word (caused by an issue with the text import from the book's InDesign file), incoherent keyboard/tab navigation, and mis or unlabeled headings, buttons, and interactive sections. Everything is a work in progress, but the developers are actively tackling issues to improve the experience for the visually impaired. We're also working to field some of the user comments, starting a #DDBaccessibility tag on social media for people to use when providing feedback. Not being experts in accessibility, there's a lot we're researching and teaching ourselves with the help of professionals and consultants. This is a huge help for us because it helps give us more access and exposure to individual user experience so we can problem solve easier.
We've sponsored 5 scholarships to the summer session of RPG Writer Workshop! Recipients have not been announced just yet, but we're happy to offer the opportunity to take this course to more people who want to learn and grow. We plan to continue working closely with RPG Writer Workshop, and will be encouraging nominations for disabled gamers to receive our scholarships. Amazing content comes out of this workshop, and we can't wait to see what they have to offer! In the future, we may partner with our scholarship recipients to create DOTS content as well, giving people a chance to get their name and work out to our wonderfully supportive audience.
We're headed to Seattle for the first time ever to attend PAX West, so why not come in loud and proud? We submitted a panel to PAX titled "Accessibility in Gaming: Challenges, Obstacles and Solutions" that we're crossing our fingers and hoping to get approved. The description for the panel is as follows:
Gamers with disabilities often face challenges playing their favorite titles, whether it be in tabletop or video games. Panelists share their expertise relating to accessibility in game play and development, as well as what challenges they have faced and what solutions may improve conditions. Audience members are welcome and encouraged to share their experiences as well. Working together, we can educate game creators on important needs and help improve accessibility in gaming for all individuals!
And it should be no surprise that some amazing members of the community stepped up when we put out the call for panel participants. Here's who will be on it:
Jess Dempsey (she/her) - DOTS RPG Project
Sara Winters (she/her) - Visually Impaired Gamer and Cosplayer
Jayden Yamada (he/him)- Visually Impaired Gamer and Developer
Cherry Rae (they/them) - Disabled Game Developer and Accessibility Consultant
Shawna Spain (she/her) - Disabled Gamer and Accessibility Advocate
Adam Davis (he/him) - Executive Director at Game to Grow
Greg Haynes (he/him) - Lead Games User Researcher at AbleGamers
Over the next year, we plan to submit panels like this at every con we attend. Even if we don't get approved for all of them, just a few can help propel things forward and bring about more positive change in the world of accessibility in gaming. In additional to panels, we have applied for booth space at PAX Unplugged this coming November. It would be a wonderful opportunity to be able to stand side by side with retailers and developers in the Expo Hall, bringing the accessibility in gaming conversation front and center to thousands of people over the course of a few days. We haven't heard back on approval for that yet, but we'll share once we do.
We're always amazed by the dedication and hard work of our volunteers. Many are just like us, not knowing everything in the way of accessibility needs but driven to help however they can. We've had a great surge in Limners to work on image descriptions which is wonderful, since it can be the most time consuming task of what we need to do. If you'd be interesting in volunteering, you can fill out the volunteer form on our website!
We've launched some new DOTS Gear recently, including enamel dragon pins, 3d printed dragons, oversized dice, damaged braille dice, and a whole bunch of new shirts! Every purchase helps us raise money to cover operating costs, shipping and donation of accessible gaming materials, and convention appearances to spread our efforts to even more people in the community.
Everyone here at DOTS is in some way or another a huge LGBTQIA+ ally/advocate/member/etc. Pride month means so much to us, and we're happy once again to make donations to The Trevor Project. Throughout the month of June, all DOTS Gear orders have come with a free rainbow DOTS Pride logo sticker. For every sticker ordered or sent for free, we'll be donating $1 to The Trevor Project. We still have to do a final count, but it looks like we made it close to $50 this year!
That's all folks! It's never a dull moment with DOTS! Thank you for your continued support, being on this journey with us, and caring about improving accessibility in gaming for all individuals.
- Guild Master Jess