Fate Accessibility Toolkit

Gaming With Disabilities

Whether you’re playing a disabled character, creating a character with disabilities, GMing for disabled characters, or making your gaming space more accessible and welcoming for disabled players, this section covers a lot of things you should think about.

Playing Characters With Disabilities

The way disabilities are expressed in Fate Core comes from the choices you make in character and the way you use your skills to navigate the world around you. You won’t necessarily narrate using your white cane on the pavement unless it matters in the story, but you might narrate the experience of trying to find a clue with your hands and not your eyes. Your character in a wheelchair has the Athletics skill, but it’s used for other ways of getting around than running and jumping. When playing a character with disabilities within Fate, avoid embodying that character by using a prop; rather, shift the way you think about interacting with the world at large.

Physical Disabilities

Most people are familiar with the disabilities you assume you can see—those that require mobility devices or exterior help. They’re often the disabilities that people stare at, because they see something as different from them. Some of the disabilities covered in this book include blindness, deafness, paralysis, and amputation. The fact is, not all these disabilities are visible, though. A blind person might wear glasses, or they might only be blind in one eye and not both. A D/deaf person might wear invisible hearing aids, or have a cochlear implant. All these things change the visible nature of disability—and that’s before we get future tech involved!

Physical disabilities likely affect play the most in terms of physical actions—everything from being able to notice objects or find clues, to running from a pack of slavering beasts.

The term D/deaf is used to describe people across the spectrum of deafness and of participation in Deaf Culture. A person who is a “capital D Deaf” person likely uses sign language either as their primary language or to the exclusion of orally spoken language. A person with the “little d” designation likely uses oral language skills, lipreading, and hearing aids. D/deaf is often used as a shortcut to describe both groups who are similar but not exactly the same when it comes to communication.

Hard of hearing (HoH) refers to those who have trouble hearing some sounds; this can range from mild to severe and is often helped by amplification devices such as hearing aids. There’s a medical definition with a firm delineation, but culturally and personally the lines are more blurry. How do you know if someone is hard of hearing or deaf or Deaf? It depends on how they personally identify themselves.

Invisible Disabilities

An invisible disability may not be apparent at first blush—a condition which, for better or worse, isn’t seen as a part of you at a glance. Many of these disabilities are still physical in nature by the way they affect the body, but aren’t obvious at first sight.

It should be made clear that these disabilities are not things that someone could make up, or convince oneself of within the context of mental illness. Both mental illness and invisible disabilities are valid, and real, and things which should be taken seriously, not questioned for their validity. Unfortunately, this is a common reaction to such disabilities, especially ones around pain or around neurotypicality.

Each disability could be coupled with other disabilities. However, as someone who lives with three disabilities, I can tell you that it’s not an easy path—I don’t recommend it unless you have extensive understanding of all the disabilities in your character’s background.

However, there may be occasions where it seems fitting to have two disabilities overlap from the same cause. In this case, it may be wisest to start with the cause—an accident, an illness, etc.—and identify a few consequences. For example, a character who survived a serious car wreck may have a mobility disability and also have PTSD which manifests primarily around travel and transit.

Rather than develop a full set of aspects for each, you might take one aspect related to PTSD and focus the rest of the character’s disability-related mechanics on their mobility disability. Or consider that one disability may manifest as mechanics, while the rest are part of the narrative gameplay. Above all, remember that your character is a complex person and should not be defined primarily by their disabilities, even if they have several.

See Creating a Disabled Fate Character (page XX) for suggestions on how to balance the mechanics.

Mental Illness

In game design we have a really difficult relationship with mental illness. Games don’t have a great track record for representing mental illness well, or for treating people who have mental illnesses with respect.

A lot of that has to do with the language that we use in creating games. Sanity checks. Games set in horrifying psychiatric facilities. Flaws or character defects that make mental illness look scarier than it is. All these things have made the game table a very shaky place to talk about mental health—but I hope this book can dispel a little bit of that bad faith. When discussing mental illnesses, we do our best to talk about not just what mental health can look like in games, but how it might affect your character for real, not as a joke or as a punchline, but as a way to develop your character. To help address these concerns, each of the mental illness sections has been written by a person who lives with the mental health condition listed.

It’s common and easy to assume we’re familiar with mental health conditions based on the oversimplified and often joking way they’re portrayed and talked about in everyday conversation. How often have you seen an offhand comment about OCD that describes it as a quirk and doesn’t account for the reality of what it means to live with it? If you play a character with a mental illness, consider doing an internet search of medical sources to get an idea of what a clinical diagnosis looks like. Not every mental illness plays out exactly the way that the diagnosis is written, but it’s a helpful piece of information for you to have. As a note, clinical diagnostic criteria sometimes change, and the definitions often alter how people identify. Having your diagnosis be a moving target is also something to consider, because it may make your character less sure of what exactly they live with.

Just because you’re given access to these tools to diagnose and play out your character’s mental illness does not mean you should use these tools to diagnose real live people. If you have concerns about a friend or family member’s mental health, consider giving them the tools to seek out help, rather than diagnosing them on your own.

Horror and Mental Health

When playing in a game that focuses on people’s realities being torn apart, such as Cthulhu Mythos-related games, players should pay attention to how trauma, or changes to the reality they ascribe to, affect them as a character. Rather than using “crazy” behavior to elicit humor, focus instead on how the things that shift your worldview change what you are and aren’t willing to do. A woman who believes so strongly in justice that she’s willing to do anything to uphold the law may have trouble looking herself in the mirror after having to kill a cultist who was attempting to sacrifice a virgin. A doctor who believes strongly in his Hippocratic oath might not be so comfortable with himself when he finds out that the body doesn’t actually work the way that he’s always learned it does. The worlds we create can have effects on the mental health of our characters without becoming a hilarious trope of what the media feeds us as comedy.

I see a lot of people playing “crazy” characters as the catharsis of humor in many horror games. They’re the ones who do silly things and who act like children; in that case mental illness is played as a trait that makes people unpredictable or funny. People will still do this—I can’t reach through the pages of this book and stop you—but I encourage you to consider how mental illness would actually affect a character running around in a world that no longer makes any sense.

Anchors: Tracking Mental Trauma

The mind is complex, and a mechanic like sanity points or a random mental illness chart simplifies it in a way that can be reductive and insulting to people who actually live with mental illness. If you think your game needs such a mechanic, consider this as an alternative.

When creating characters, each player chooses five aspects: a high concept, a trouble, and three anchors. Those anchors are things that stabilize them, that give them comfort, that prevent them from spiraling into despair. They can be relationships, daily rituals they engage in, beliefs they hold, personal items or places that are very important to them, or a variety of other grounding forces.

Whenever a player wants a better roll but has no way to improve that roll—they’re out of fate points, they have no applicable stunts, or they simply don’t have any relevant aspects—they can risk an anchor. Doing so provides the benefit of invoking an aspect, but it comes with a catch: if the player succeeds on their roll, they must change that anchor by the end of the scene. The new anchor can be related or entirely new, provided that it makes sense within the context of the game. If the character fails their roll, nothing happens to their anchors; they simply suffer the effects of failure. A character can risk each anchor only once on a single roll.

This system is less about penalizing players or “damaging their sanity” when they’re exposed to horrific things and more about modeling how people change when exposed to horrors. It’s not explicitly for modeling mental illness, but it can be used to do so in a way that’s more organic and respectful than sanity points or a random mental illness chart.

If you use this system, know that it relies heavily on depriving the players of fate points. Consider lowering players’ starting refresh and using compels sparingly.

Creating a Disabled Fate Character

There are a number of ways to make a character with a disability and have the disability represented in game mechanics. The first step in all of those ways is to have one of your character aspects (possibly your high concept but it doesn’t have to be) establish the disability, such as Paraplegic Sleuth or Autistics Think Outside the Box. This alone shows that your character’s disability is a part of them that you’d like to explore. If that’s as far as you want to go, it’s absolutely enough.

Components of a Disability

On the other hand, establishing a disability through an aspect opens up a wealth of options. These include additional aspects, stunts, conditions, and extras.


You can make as many of your aspects as you wish incorporate your disability. Discussions of the various disabilities in Fate Accessibility Toolkit give plenty of example aspects specifically related to those disabilities, but some examples include:

Blind Champion of Queen Iranthi: Invoke to gain a bonus in combat, take advantage of the fact that you know the Queen personally, or declare that the flickering firelight doesn’t bother you (because you can barely see it anyway). Compel when an opponent uses your limited vision against you or when you’d rather be taking care of a different problem but duty to the Queen calls you away.

The Best Hearing Aids Fifty Bucks Can Buy: Invoke when you need to replace them inexpensively or when you need a bonus to hear that guy sneaking up on you. Compel when the cheap pieces of junk crackle with static or whistle with feedback.

Former Wheelchair Basketball Olympian: Invoke to gain a bonus in a chase or when you need to throw an object, or when your determination never, ever to quit gets you through a tough spot. Compel when “never quit” means you throw good effort after bad, or when your rival from the Australian team shows up with some payback on her mind.

Quality Earplugs: Invoke when you need to recover from an autistic meltdown or don’t want the incredibly loud sounds of that factory to stir up your migraine. Compel when your earplugs mean you don’t hear the warning your partner yells to you, or you miss that your phone is ringing.


You can compose stunts related to your disability using your character’s usual stunt slots and refresh. Stunts can represent qualities of your disability, as well as adaptive devices (page XX) you use. See Fate Core's stunt chapter (Fate Core System, page 88) for extensive details about composing stunts, but some examples include:

Shotgun Prosthetic (Deceive): Your rigid prosthetic leg contains a shotgun barrel, triggered by a lever at your hip. When you’re seated, you may make an attack (with Weapon:3) using Deceive against a target in your zone that isn’t aware of this extra feature.

Pain Tolerance (Physique): Your many years of dealing with chronic pain have made you resilient to physical punishment. Once per session, at the cost of a fate point, you can reduce the severity of a moderate consequence that’s physical in nature to a mild consequence (if your mild consequence slot is free), or erase a mild consequence altogether.

Lip Reader (Notice): You are highly adept at reading lips. You gain +2 to overcome actions made with Notice to “eavesdrop” on someone from a distance, provided you can see their mouth.

Extras and Conditions

Extras (Fate Core System, Chapter 11) can be used to represent some adaptive devices, such as wheelchairs or cybernetic implants. Most extras have a cost that you need to meet in order to take it, such as skill ranks in a certain skill or spending a stunt slot.

A condition is… well… a temporary condition that your character might find themself in. Conditions have special rules that come into effect when they’re active, and have a way to recover from them to deactivate those rules. We talk a lot about conditions on page XX.

What Can I Add To My Character?

So, how many conditions, extras, and such can you take when you make your character? Your aspects, skills, and stunts work as usual. The parts of your disability represented by aspects, skills, and stunts fit into those frameworks no differently than non-disability related elements. Extras list a permission (typically an aspect) and a cost (typically a stunt slot or point of refresh, sometimes more). Many give you some free aspects and stunts, which don’t count against your usual slots. You can take as many extras as you can afford within that cost.

Conditions are a bit different. Some extras suggest (or even require) particular conditions, so take those, but we suggest that you take any that make sense to your conception of your character.

Remember that with the Fate Accessibility Toolkit, your aim should not be precise mechanical “balance,” where every disadvantage is evened-out by a concrete advantage somewhere else. Let your focus be on modeling in rules the parts of your character that you’d like to reflect in rules.

This goes for any mechanical part of the game, not just conditions. Game designers and writers who live with these disabilities have stressed throughout this book many times that every person’s disability is unique—so it would be ridiculous to have hard-and-fast rules about how, say, blindness works that apply the same way every time. Be flexible. Make the character on paper the way they are in your imagination.

Example: Creating Ma Bell

Laurel is playing in a 90s-era Hackers game. Her high concept is Aspie Phone Phreaker who goes by “Ma Bell.” As a trouble aspect, Laurel decides her character has an I Can Do It! attitude which often gets her in over her head. Sometimes this could be related to an autistic fixation, but it’s more often a consequence of her curiosity and love of experimentation. Ma Bell pulls off her hijinks because she Hears in Patterns and uses devices to exactly mimic the sounds she needs. This is a cooler use of a real life way in which Laurel experiences her autism. Laurel reminds the GM that she isn’t playing a stereotypical savant or someone with superpowers; Ma Bell’s talent is in reproducing the patterns she hears.

Since Ma Bell uses homemade gadgets to phreak, Laurel creates the stunt Sonic Scrounger. With this stunt, she can identify potential components even when she’s separated from her electronic devices without spending a fate point. Making a new gadget still requires a Craft check. Laurel draws on her own experience of making people uncomfortable by observing things which fall outside social norms to develop the stunt I Can’t Help But Notice; it uses her character’s Notice in place of Provoke to create an advantage by unsettling or upsetting the target.

Laurel adds condition Meltdown to her sheet and tells the GM it’s generally triggered for her character by auditory stimuli. She considers whether she wants to take any assistive devices as aspects or extras. In everyday life, her partner acts as a service human. But she decides that her character is more of a loner and that her gadgets are all focused around her trade. She may invoke some of her real-life autistic traits in engaging with her gadgets, but she doesn’t feel it needs to be mechanical.

Ma Bell


High Concept: Aspie Phone Phreaker

Trouble: I Can Do It!

Other Aspects: Hears in Patterns; Pockets Full of Gadgets; Friends in Geeky Circles


Great (+4): Notice

Good (+3): Craft, Investigate

Fair (+2): Empathy, Resources, Stealth

Average (+1): Athletics, Contacts, Lore, Will


Sonic Scrounger (Crafts): Ma Bell can identify potential components for her gadgets even when she’s separated from her electronic devices. She doesn’t need to spend a fate point to declare she has what she needs. Making a new gadget still requires a Craft check.

I Can’t Help But Notice (Notice): Thanks to her habit of observing things that fall outside of social norms, Ma Bell can use Notice in place of Provoke when creating an advantage by making the target unsettled or upset.

Always Making Useful Things (Crafts): You don’t ever have to spend a fate point to declare that you have the proper tools for a particular job using Crafts, even in extreme situations (like being imprisoned and separated from all your stuff). This source of opposition is just off the table.


Physical: [1][2]

Mental: [1][2][3]


[]Meltdown (fleeting) Consequences [2]Mild: [4]Moderate: [6]Severe: Refresh: 3 ##### Example: Creating Professor Jenkins Elsa is creating Professor Jenkins, a blind super sleuth in a mystery campaign set in the 1920s. She takes the high concept aspect Blind Mystery-Solving Literature Professor which establishes that she’s blind and is extremely well-read and highly educated. Another of her aspects is Glasses Like Soda Bottles; Elsa tells the GM that Jenkins has some vision in one eye but it’s limited to close-up work and then only with her strong glasses. Next, she composes this stunt to represent one of her items of adaptive technology, using one of her character’s three free stunts: * Magnifiers (Investigation): Professor Jenkins’s glasses have a jeweler’s magnification lens that she can position in front of her usual lenses. With this lens, she gains +2 to overcome and create advantage Investigation actions when examining objects close-up and looking for tiny details. Finally, she likes the look of the extra called White Cane, and decides to add it to her character. The White Cane extra costs one of her stunt slots (so that’s the second of the three free stunts), but it gives her two free stunts and an additional aspect that are related to her cane. It also requires the Without My Device condition. ###### Professor Jenkins Aspects High Concept: Blind Mystery-Solving Literature Professor Trouble: The Dean Has It In For Me Other Aspects: Glasses Like Soda Bottles; Cane Expertise, Martial and Otherwise; That’s What Grad Students Are For Skills Great (+4): Investigate Good (+3): Contacts, Lore Fair (+2): Notice, Stealth, Fight Average (+1): Deceive, Empathy, Rapport, Will Stunts Magnifiers (Investigate): Professor Jenkins’s glasses have a jeweler’s magnification lens that she can position in front of her usual lenses. With this lens, she gains +2 to overcome and create advantage Investigation actions when examining objects close-up and looking for tiny details. Stun Stick (Fight): The handle of your cane conceals a powerful electrical stunning device, which delivers a viciously painful shock through the cane’s tip. Once per scene, you can apply Shocked and Stunned to the target of your successful Fight attack made with the cane. Trapfinder (Notice): You have optimized your cane for locating traps, snares, false floors, and other pitfalls you might encounter while exploring ancient temples and ruins. Gain +2 to overcome actions with Notice to find traps. The Power of Deduction (Investigate): Once per scene you can spend a fate point (and a few minutes of observation) to make a special Investigate roll representing your potent deductive faculties. For each shift you make on this roll you discover or create an aspect, on either the scene or the target of your observations, though you may only invoke one of them for free. Extras White Cane Conditions []Without My Device (fleeting) Stress Physical: [1][2]

Mental: [1][2][3]





Refresh: 3

GMing for Disabled Characters

So you’ve got all these new characters rolling around the table, and suddenly you need to adjust how you GM in order to tell the stories of disabled characters as well as you’ve told the stories of able bodied ones. The first thing to remember is that telling a story includes all the senses that characters might have access to. For example, if a blind character is at the table, you want to make sure to give their player excellent sensory directions like smell, taste, touch, and sound. The air can taste like blood if you’re used to paying attention to such things, for example.

One of the ways to think about this is also a great writing technique—look at a scene and take away a single sense for yourself, then consider all the ways it might be read from other sensory angles. If you can’t hear at all, a room full of people shouting might look very different, because you can’t contextualize the shouting by tone.

This also means that you need to know what’s in an area very well, or at least be prepared to elaborate on the fly. If you’ve got a character with a wheelchair, you might need to diversify the ways characters get into a building or around a space. If your players aren’t disabled, they may not know tricks to getting around or may not have thought about fantastical measures for getting a wheelchair into a building, so you need to be three steps ahead with possible solutions to move the story forward.

It is also totally reasonable to challenge your characters with disabilities in ways that a person with a disability would be challenged in real life, provided the player themself is not disabled. Having to play out scenarios that a player with a disability lives every day is boring, but giving able bodied players a chance to think through everyday solutions to problems is a reasonable part of play.

Disabilities at the Table

Most of this book is dedicated to the question: How do I play disabled people in games? This section is about the other question I often get asked: How do I bring players with disabilities to my table? It focuses on bringing players with disabilities to our gaming tables without asking them to do the bulk of the work to figure out how to get there.

The first few steps are really simple. Start with bright lights, comfortable chairs, and accessible materials such as large print dice, simpler character sheets with larger print, or even a tablet with a PDF of the game rules on it. On page page XX of this book you’ll find a large print character sheet for Fate Core, and on page XX you'll find a list of ASL signs for some basic RPG terms.

These are a start, but there’s more to do. Your table can’t just be accessible because you’re willing to play with people; it has to be accessible because you’ve made your table that way.

The world won’t always be perfectly accessible. We may not always have strong lighting, we may not be able to eradicate crosstalk at our tables, or completely eradicate harmful tropes.

But we can try.

We can try to create better gaming spaces, create better characters, develop better systems.

We can make large print character sheets, and design mechanics that represent more people. We can stop using harmful tropes, and develop more content about disabled people.

The best tool I can leave you with is to ask questions of your disabled peers. Want to play a D/deaf character? Ask somebody. Want to have a visually impaired or blind player at your table? Ask them what will make the game more comfortable for them.

We didn’t cover a lot of disabilities in here, not because they aren’t important but because we only had so much space. Don’t assume that because we didn’t include them doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of inclusion, representation, or support. Intellectually disabled gamers exist, gamers with MS, with muscular dystrophy, with ALS exist. They deserve representation and inclusion in our world.

We can always do better.


Inclusion and representation doesn’t just take place in the ways that we play our games, or with the characters we develop; it’s also about changing our culture to include people. We’re still fighting and learning how to include women and people of color in our games and at our tables, but disability is important too.

That fight starts with how you speak.

The real tool you need to create accessibility is knowing how to talk about access with your friends, players, and strangers. There’s language to be used for that, and there are better and worse ways to discuss these issues.

Let’s start with the basics of the language people use to describe themselves and their disabilities. There are two major theories that get used: Person First Language and Identity First Language. It’s safest to use Person First Language at first, when you don’t yet know someone’s preference. Once you’ve gotten to know someone for a while, I suggest asking your friend what language they use for their disability.

Person First Language

This is a pretty simple idea: put the word person before the word disability or the kind of disability involved. Person with a wheelchair, person with a disability (PWD for short).

Identity First Language

I (Elsa) am an identity first user. I’m a blind woman. A disabled person. The identity of disability is important to who I am, and I can’t get rid of it. For me, person first language feels distancing, but for others it feels respectful. That’s why you should always ask!

Language to Avoid

Handicapable, special needs, and other cutesy ways to avoid disability are often viewed as harmful. They erase the need for language that says the word, they play into the need to pretend that disability doesn’t exist. People aren’t comfortable confronting disability as it is.

Special needs is a term that particularly sticks with me, because my needs at the game table (or anywhere) aren’t special. It’s not special that I need a level playing field using adaptive devices. It’s not special treatment to ask for a different character sheet, or for everyone to use large print dice. It’s just how it is. When you adjust your language to believe that these are needed changes, and not special, you’re acknowledging equality with your words.

Creating a Safe Environment

It goes without saying that the environment needs to be physically safe for all players, so here we’re talking about making your table a place where the players feel safe to engage with the game and with other players.

First, it’s important to set the tone for your table by talking about people’s expectations and things that won’t be accepted at your table, like playing disabilities for laughs or scenes with violence against children. Talk about things that the players do and don’t want to experience—you are also one of those players, so make your own wishes known, both for your comfort and to set an example to encourage others to share as well. If your players are expecting a swashbuckling adventure, they may be caught unawares by a dark dungeon crawl with a high likelihood of death. If a player has a spider phobia, maybe rethink the plan to have them enter a haunted house full of spiders; maybe another creature would be just as creepy without touching on deep-seated fears. See “Trigger Warnings” on page XX for more on this.

Despite your best attempts at trying to avoid in-game situations that make your players uncomfortable, sometimes a player (including you) may find the game heading in an unwelcome direction. There are a few strategies for dealing with this in the game as it happens. The two we talk about here are the X-Card and Script Change.

The X-Card

John Stavropoulos’ creation of the X-Card has made it possible to have a physical representation of the trigger warning on every gaming table we sit at. The X-Card acts as a way to remove ourselves from a scene or situation that might be uncomfortable, for whatever reason. Many people use it to avoid having to engage in any kind of roleplay they might not be comfortable with (any kind of sexual scene with someone they don’t know well, for example), while others use it to avoid any material that might be triggering for a psychological disorder such as PTSD.

The X-Card creates a way to signal safely without having to explain yourself to a table of potential strangers. It means that if you want to play a game with people you don’t know, you don’t have to explain your whole life history before sitting down. Some detractors of the X-Card say that it just allows people to find out what your weaknesses are, but that would be an abuse of the dynamic that the card represents.

The X-Card and trigger warnings are intended to create an environment where any theme can be explored, or where any theme can be expressly avoided if necessary. The ideal is, of course, that all players feel comfortable within the space.

The X-Card is particularly suited to conventions, game day events, and other situations where the participants may not know one another all that well and where time for discussion of sensitive issues may be limited. You can learn more about the X-Card on page XX.

Script Change

Brie Beau Sheldon’s Script Change RPG Toolbox is more suited to ongoing games between people who know one another and have built a level of trust. Often it’s good to discuss with your group a “rating” for your game content, however sometimes people don’t know their boundaries yet. Maybe they do, and they just aren’t expecting to kick down the door and find something that really makes them scared or uncomfortable. This is where Script Change comes in.

At any point during the game, if a player or game master (GM) finds that they are uncomfortable with the subject matter or actions happening in the game, they can call for a Script Change. To make things easier, the GM should write “Rewind,” “Fast Forward,” and “Pause” on individual index cards or print out the sample Script Change cards in the Appendix of this book. You can learn more about Script Change on page XX.

Trigger Warnings

Trigger warnings are another method of assisting players with potential mental health concerns around a table. Instead of asking your players to air their concerns in front of one another (which the X-Card forces you to do to some extent) you can always offer to have conversations with your players individually about their triggers or topical concerns when it comes to subject matter. You don’t have to even have a mental health concern to have something you don’t want to come up in game. For example, I really prefer my horror without eyeball trauma.

Another way to use the trigger warning or content warning is to tell your players ahead of time at the top of a session that “these are the themes we might get into at the table today” and then letting people opt out if they need to. Giving people the information that Wraith: The Oblivion contains themes of violent death might seem redundant, but not everyone is going to be aware. Giving everyone equal opportunity to sit down at the table and enjoy a game is valuable.

All Access Gaming

The philosophy to which I subscribe, and the reason I wrote this book, can be called “all access gaming.” Ideally our hobby will eventually be radically accessible, a place in which no matter if you can hear, see, or walk, you can still play in any game you want.

This doesn’t just apply to the table at your home. It applies to the gaming stores we go to and the publishers we buy from. Asking for access needs to come not just from the disabled gamers who request it, but from their friends who want to be able to play with them. All access gaming means that we’ve busted open the hobby as wide as we can and told everyone that they can come roll the dice with us.

A lot of people ask why gamers should care about equal representation for disabled gamers. After all, if you’re not disabled those stories aren’t obviously fun to play. The answer is because we live in a diverse world, and the stories we want to tell are not just about us. We cannot on one hand criticize players for wanting to play themselves, and then not want to tell as many stories and hear as many stories as we can.

All access gaming means welcoming people with new stories to our tables, and making those tables easily attended. Since accessibility isn’t the default, however, we have to begin designing our games around change, rather than expecting the change to develop around games.

Accessible Randomizers

Dice are one of the most inaccessible accessories in our hobby—and yet they’re also one of the most integral. They’re difficult or impossible to read for those with vision problems, and those with tremors or other fine motor control issues may have difficulty rolling them.

The dice that are most readable for low vision or blind gamers are often clunky, large, and difficult to roll, especially for pool-based games where you need a lot of dice. Some people like to design braille dice, which is great for completely blind players, but braille readers and NLP (no light perception) blind people are a small fraction of the population. There’s lots of low vision folks out there who want good looking large print dice, or other options.

This is part of why the Fate Accessibility Toolkit was written for the Fate system. Fate dice are easily read by touch and they’re more accessible than most dice because there isn’t any counting to be done. In the vast majority of Fate games, you never roll more than four dice, which are all the same size and shape.

In addition, if you don’t want to handle tactile dice (or if tactile dice aren’t an option for you), many dice apps have options for Fate or Fudge dice. There’s also the physical Deck of Fate from Evil Hat and the Deck of Fate app. The Deck of Fate mimics the probability of Fate dice with the numeric results shown in large numbers—red for negative results, black for neutral, and blue for positive. The licensed Deck of Fate app from Hidden Achievement has an option to add a skill profile and let the app do all your math for you.

The Fate system is accessible, and it can be made more accessible by players and GMs.

Text Issues

Rules embedded in a wall of small print. A multi-page character sheet full of columns of stats. Many games aren’t friendly to those who have trouble processing text.

Tactics like retaining white space on the page and including “cheat sheets” that summarize important rules in large print can help make a game book easier to read and reference. Different versions of the character sheet, including one that is decluttered and has plenty of room to write, can also make your game more accessible. Consider offering these as free downloads to make them available to anyone who needs them.

PDFs, which can be zoomed in to make the text easier to read, are becoming more widespread, but some of the most popular games aren’t yet available in PDF form. Nor are most gaming books available via audiobook, although ebooks can be turned into audiobooks, particularly if they are in .ePub or .mobi formats. (Fate Core System is available in both .ePub and .mobi formats in addition to PDF.)

The Verbal Component

In a hobby that is almost entirely about the spoken word, people who cannot hear or speak might be shut out. Those who struggle with sensory input or crowds can easily be overwhelmed by a noisy table and people talking over each other.

Deaf gamers face specific struggles within the hobby—or they don’t. If a Deaf gamer finds other Deaf people to game with, then they can game in their own language. But if they want to play new games and meet new people, it may seem like an overwhelming challenge. Disabled gamers can hack a game and tell stories within our own social groups and disability related communities, but it’s when we try to bridge the gap and play with able bodied players that things become more difficult.

A lot of this boils down to being aware of the needs of the gamers at your table. Ensuring that everyone has a chance to express themselves in whatever way they need to—whether spoken, signed, or written—can help gamers feel less isolated. If you see someone pulling back from group discussion, see if you can give them a chance to communicate without being spoken over. Take time to calm the overall atmosphere of the room when your players have gotten excited. There’s an understandable tendency to let things go as long as players seem engaged, but keep an eye out for the quiet ones and look for ways to make the table comfortable for them as well.


Conventions are where game culture goes to develop. People take new tools back to their home FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) or to their homebrew games. Cons help by creating standards of access and requiring able bodied participants to be aware of the access limitations which are present at the con, and how they can better support disabled places in their own environments.

Gaming will benefit from creating better representation by simply creating space at all conventions—not just the ones that disabled folks work at. Hire someone within your convention planning team to specifically work on accessibility.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Since our hobby is so focused on vocal storytelling, we need to remember that not everyone can hear in a loud crowded gaming hall. Allocate space for games run by or played by d/Deaf gamers and others who need to play in a low distraction environment.
  • Create a website for your game that can be easily accessed by visually impaired attendees, or offer the option of large print character sheets.
  • Make wheelchair friendly lanes in hallways and the exhibitor hall, and put disability seating in panel spaces.
  • Have a designated and well advertised quiet room with low lighting where attendees who are overwhelmed by the crowds, the sounds, the visuals, etc. can go to rest and recharge.

What this all boils down to, whether it’s a blind player or a player on the autism spectrum, is that we must be in dialogue with one another, so that every single one of us can play.