Information for Vision-Impaired Users

Unlike graphical computer games, most text adventures are highly accessible to players with vision impairments. Most IF games display all or nearly all of their information via text, which allows them to be used with screen reader software that converts on-screen text to voice announcements. IF also has a conversational style of interaction that lends itself well to screen reader use: input is usually entered as text, rather than moving something around on the screen, and there's usually no time limit for entering a move.

Read on for information on how best to set up TADS for use with screen readers. For information on setting up the screen reader software itself, you'll have to refer to the instructions that came with your screen reader package.

For Windows Users

The easiest and most reliable way to use TADS games with screen reader software on Windows is to the use the "DOS box" version of the TADS interpreter. This interpreter is compatible with virtually all TADS games - even games that use HTML TADS features to display graphics. The DOS-box interpreter simply ignores any graphics that the game attempts to display, and removes any special formatting effects, leaving only the plain text. Screen readers have a much easier time with this plain format than with the mixture of formatting and graphics that HTML TADS can display.

You can download the DOS-box interpreter from the IF Archive. Go to the programming/tads2/executables directory:

Look for the file whose name starts with "tads32_" - the rest is the version number. Download that file and UNZIP it, and you'll find a program called TR32.EXE. That's the DOS-box interpreter.

To run a game with this version of the interpreter, you first need to open a DOS box. You do this by clicking the Start menu and selecting "Run...". If you're on Windows XP, 2000, or NT, type "CMD" into the dialog box; if you're on Windows ME, 98, or 95, type "COMMAND". Click OK. This will bring up a DOS command-prompt window.

Next, switch to the folder where you unzipped the TR32.EXE program, by typing the drive name of the disk and pressing Return, then typing "CD directory" and pressing Return. For example, if you unzipped TR32.EXE into "c:\tads", type these two commands:

    cd \tads

Now you're ready to run the game. To run the interpreter, type this:

    tr32 -plain mygame.gam

(Substitute the name of the game you actually want to play for "mygame.gam".) The "-plain" flag tells the interpreter to use the plainest possible format. This avoids things that could make the screen reader's job more difficult, such as moving the cursor around the screen to draw a "status line" at the top.

Now all you need to do is to set up your screen reader to read from the DOS box. You'll have to refer to your screen reader package for those instructions.

For Mac OS Users

Spatterlight reportedly works with VoiceOver.

For Linux Users

If you're using Linux, you should have good results with the standard "tadsr" interpreter. This version of the interpreter uses plain "stdio" input/output, so any Linux screen reader should be able to process its output easily.

When you run a game, add the "-plain" option before the name of the game:

   tadsr -plain mygame.gam

The "-plain" option tells the interpreter to use the plainest possible format. This avoids things that could confuse the screen reader, such as moving the cursor around the screen to draw a "status line" at the top.