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Visually Impaired use of the Site

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pocklecod

Dear friends,

  I've got a good friend IRL who is blind and interested in chess.com, in part because I play here and we'd like to play one another.  She's having trouble, though, using the site as everything here seems to rely on the ability to see and thus pick up and move the pieces represented visually in an online board, and this task is not really possible for the types of accessibility equipment and software which the visually impaired implement to use the internet.

  I'm wondering if there is any way to make the site work for the blind.  This would basically require typing in moves in a command-line of some kind, and receiving opponent moves the same way.  Is it possible to do that on the site either in livechess or online chess?  When playing on the site we are provided with algebraic output for moves, but is there a way to input moves algebraically?

philidorposition

No, unfortunately not. If I'm remembering correctly, the software Chessmaster is more friendly in that respect. It can speak out your opponent's (although it'll be a computer opponent, not a live person) moves and you can input the moves via typing.

pocklecod

Bummer, philidor.

The site output on chess.com isn't an issue, I think.  There are lots of screen reading tools for the blind that would be able to read the algebraic outputs which the site creates - the site wouldn't need to do the reading itself.  It's just the input...which seems like it shouldn't be a tremendous hurdle, really.  The older chess servers like FICS rely on algebraic command line stuff, right?

Any chance that site admins have this on the radar screen?  Is a more accessible site something we're working towards?  If not, let me be the first to say I think it should be.

Rammland

Hi, I'm a member of Chess.com and I'm totally blind myself. I cannot find any way of playing chess here and I think that this is pretty poor for such a large chess site - I might even say discriminatory. I hoped that the new site would improve for blind people, but it hasn't. Many blind people play chess and they are all being excluded from what seems to be a really good resource for the want of a bit of thought and some relatively simple coding. Please consider changing this, John Ramm

charles_butternucker

So, for a blind person, basically every game is "blindfold". Wow, I couldn't do it. :/

pilotk9

Do you just use this site for the forum john?

pocklecod

I'm kind of glad that this thread has gotten revived.  I agree entirely with Rammland--this is a very big issue to me, and I really find it obnoxious that chess.com is doing nothing about it.  I'd totally understand if this were some kind of huge problem to solve, but it's simply not.  All chess.com needs to do is create an option for algebraic input rather than graphical input to move the pieces.  Do that, and the site should work for the visually impaired.  This is galling because it's so simple.

Also, just to note, blind and blindfolded are not the same.  Blind players use special boards that allow them to feel the pieces.  This is allowed at OTB tournaments as well.  Chess.com should catch up with the rest of the chess world already.

bagahc

You could try this site (click here). They say it is possible to play chess there even though you are visually impaired. 

 

I have been told that there are tools that enable connecting the chessboard here with your chess software. Some people do it to cheat in bullet and blitz games. I reckon it could somehow work for you - without the cheating part, of course. Wink

GnrfFrtzl
pocklecod írta:

I'm kind of glad that this thread has gotten revived.  I agree entirely with Rammland--this is a very big issue to me, and I really find it obnoxious that chess.com is doing nothing about it.  I'd totally understand if this were some kind of huge problem to solve, but it's simply not.  All chess.com needs to do is create an option for algebraic input rather than graphical input to move the pieces.  Do that, and the site should work for the visually impaired.  This is galling because it's so simple.

Also, just to note, blind and blindfolded are not the same.  Blind players use special boards that allow them to feel the pieces.  This is allowed at OTB tournaments as well.  Chess.com should catch up with the rest of the chess world already.

It's not going to happen.
Chess.com works like any other 'big sites', it will aim to make profit, and that will be their top priority for ever.
If it's ever going to be a thing, they'll sure as hell make you pay for it.
I've had to install adblock because this site reminds you every two seconds to pay for a membership, and the way they handicap the poor beginner players and give advantages to the richer and titled ones is pretty cheap in my opinion.
I totally understand it, though, because this is how the world works.
It's probably the same reason why we don't have 960 or bughouse chess as a live option, or why there are horrible connection problems. The players' desires don't matter, you pay, or you get nothing remarkable.

pocklecod

bagahc,

Thanks for the interesting link.  This was informative.  It demonstrates to me how simple this would really be.  The key thing about their site is just the algebraic input option.  Chess.com already has algebraic output next to every game.

GnrfFrtzl,

Honestly, my guess is that it's also related to a lack of understanding of what would be involved (plus a lack of ever really thinking about it).  I'm picturing the staff sitting there saying "blind accessibility...that's just impossible, obviously!" when in fact it's most probably quite simple.  Unless they know blind people, the staff is not very likely to understand anything about blind computing.  It's very possible that they simply don't know how little a site itself actually has to do to become accessible because the huge majority of the work is done by software and screenreaders on the blind player's own machine.  These resources are incredibly powerful, and allow blind users very close to 100% usability for everday computing.  Most websites have to do precisely nothing to be accessible.

From a business point of view, disregarding (as in not even addressing) the visually impaired along with all their friends may not be disastrous, but it does alienate some customers and potential customers.  That includes me...and I do, indeed, pay.

Rammland

Hi All and thanks for your comments. I have discussed this matter with the support team and with a guy called Erik who I am told owns this site and both are expressing the desire to help. They're asking me to wait until the new version of the site is live and then they will address the issue of being able to move if you're blind.

This is encouraging, but I've made the point that retro-fitting accessibility features is often more difficult and more expensive than building them into the development. We shall see what happens.

To deal with other comments here: I am totally blind and I have a wooden chess board with the squares on two different levels so that you can tell which are which. each square has a hole at it's centre and the pieces have pegs underneath them which fit into the holes so that I can explore (feel) the board without knocking them over. As has already been commented here, moves are displayed on chess.com in algebraic form and it is just the ability to move I lack. This makes playing chess slow as I have to wait until there is someone about with eyes before I can make a move. I joined chess.com to get better at Chess and I'm not going to improve much without the ability to play on my own, although I'm already enjoying articles and some of the study material on game play very much.

 I hope we see a resolution to this problem soon, although I'm not sure I should hold my breath for too long. :)

Toadofsky

Given that the site underwent a "V3" redesign and just announced a redesign contest, I ask that Chess.com bring a renewed attention to access for blind players, or at least that they recommend a site where blind players can play.

Actually, FIDE-sanctioned events (if any) are required to be accessible: 

Annex_6.4 Fide Online Chess Regulations

yisunshining

I hope that you, pocklecod, found a way to play chess with your friend. I do not think that Chess.com has much support for the visually impaired or blind, but I do know for a fact that Lichess.org is a good site for accessible chess. Not all of the features are easy to use, but game play is very much simple as there is an accessibility mode that many screen readers can find. Your friend should be able to find the "Enable Accessibility Mode" button as the site loads or as she navigates the site for the first time. I hope that the 9 years have been full of chess progress and best of luck to her and you!

AunTheKnight

Hmmm. I never thought about that. Chess.com should have some accessibility feature. This might bring it to their attention, that or they are already working on it.

yisunshining

In the meantime though, we can always play on Lichess.

4n2t0

It's absolutely ridiculous and probably discriminatory, especially since Chess.com is headquartered in the US, that this site does not have some type to keyboard input.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability in the activities of public accommodations.” While the law was enacted primarily to focus on obstacles at physical locations, it’s being applied to websites as well.

Remember, recently Dominos, Netflix, and Target all faced lawsuits by advocacy groups over the accessibility of their websites, forcing changes to company practices.

FishBait2019

Hi All. I am blind and am not able to play on-line using chess.com. I am aware LiChess.org has a feature whereby blind players can type their moves in. I think this is great, however, still a bit cumbersome. I currently use the Chess App on my Mac to play against others on the internet via Gamecenter. The Mac Chess App is fully accessible, I am able to make moves by simply using the arrow keys and pressing the space bar. Similarly, I can easily locate the pieces on hte board by using the arrow keys. I developed a simple chessboard that simulates this interface using Visual Basic on the Windows platform. Does anyone know if there is a way I can interface this application with chess.com or lichess.org?

 

FishBait2019

FYI, the main problem with playing Chess on a Mac is that there are very few players there. You sometimes have to wait a long time before you are matched with an opponent.