Blindfold Racer: Lighthouse Miami Again

Since Lighthouse for the Blind in Miami helped test the first few versions of the app, I wanted to show the teens how we implemented many of their suggestions. A few months ago, I contacted Emily again, and she scheduled a time with the teens that come in for the summer session.

Oseas was going to coordinate the session, and the day before Emily contacted him, he happened to have listened to my interview on the AppleVis podcast. He was quite surprised to find out that I was visiting his office, and really went out of his way to make my visit successful.

He invited several teen gamers, ranging from 13 to 18, and some of the had played the game before. None of the teens from the original group were there, I had to go through the entire story about why we built the app. One girl (who heads to college next year) randomly stumbled onto the game while looking for other accessible apps, and loved the app. She thought there were very few game apps that are truly accessible. Since starting this project, I’ve learned there are only two or three others.

The teens had many suggestions – many of which are in the version that is about to starting beta testing. Over the past few months, about 15 visually impaired gamers have signed up to test the new version.

There were several issues that continually come up with the gamers: engine sounds vs. music, and what age range is the game is designed for. Many gamers complained that since it’s a driving game, they should be able to hear a car engine sound. Some want an engine sound (for the left and right fence) instead of the music, some want it in addition to the music. They thought the first few levels would be more realistic if they can hear the car’s engine. All of them want the option of using their iTunes playlist as an alternative to the music that we provide.

Another problem is that since the first few 10 levels are fairly easy, they thought the entire game would be great for kids, but not for teens or adults. Older teens stop playing before they get to some of the audio puzzles, and assume that every level would be just driving to avoid animals or gathering prizes.

We’ll look at ways to solve both these issues in the upcoming version.

At this same meeting, I was introduced to Virginia Jacko, the CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind. She was very gracious to me and I hope to be able to work with her in the future to make the game more popular.

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