Additional Accessibility Concerns for the Reader when Accessing with Screen Reader

I just purchased the first book of Age of Ashes, since I am currently running it and I thought I’d give running this from the Pathfinder Nexus reader a shot. What I am finding at the moment is it seems like the hyperlinks within the text don’t always work with my assistive technology, or at least, not that I can see. I can use the links to download the GM and Player versions of maps, but the links that bring up stat blocks don’t currently work at all with my screen reader. In testing with a friend with vision he reported to me that hovering over the link brings up a statblock and clicking it has other results, but currently it’s like the screen reader just can’t do anything with it. In watching a Gencon interview Adam did with Joe from Glass Cannon, I understand you are actually testing this web site with screen readers. I would very much like to know what screen reader and web browser combination you are using for testing so I can give it a try with my own set-up, and if you have had better luck getting these links to work in your tests I would like to know what you did to make them work. In case you’re not already using it, there’s a free screen reader at called NVDA and it’s currently the best one out there for Windows users. I recommend testing your site using that software with Chrome and Firefox. If you are using the built-in Narrator screen reader in Windows, I can say with relative certainty that you should be testing with the one I mentioned above instead. Narrator has gotten better in recent years but is still not remotely on par with the third party options out there. If you test for mobile accessibility I recommend enabling the VoiceOver setting on an iPhone, which is the most common accessibility solution used by blind people.
Sorry for rambling. Anyway my second thing is more of a suggestion. It would be really great if there were more links that let you download images, or if the images were labeled for accessibility so they could be copied. I am a totally blind GM, and I offer my sighted players very few visual aids. I would love to be able to present them with pictures of the monsters, NPCs and other things they encounter in their games. It’s not a crucial feature, but I’ve spent all day trying to pull the images from the Hellknight Hill PDF using assistive technology without success, so there doesn’t really seem to be a great way to do this right now.

Hello, and thanks again for sharing you feedback. We are aware of the challenges screen readers would have handling tooltip links, but we haven’t been able to land on a great solution for it yet.

Your friend is correct - on desktop screen sizes, hovering over those links will display a hovercard with information, or clicking it will open a sidebar drawer that displays all of the details of the element. The issue is, that while the screen reader knows it’s a link, we aren’t sure how to dynamically display the “hidden until hovered over” information since there’s so much of it. We are exploring options and will share updates as soon as we have them.

And we have better image management on the roadmap that would include things like pop up lightboxing, gallery views, download / view larger controls, etc. In the short term, I’m not sure without looking into it closer with a screen reader, but all images can be opened in a new tab and downloaded from that new tab through the browser controls. But we’ll have some of those image improvements in place by next year.

We’ll share more as we get there - all things related to development take longer than we’d all like (including our internal teams), but they are all on the list that we are working through them.


As someone who works in tech and has dealt with web design some, I can attest to the incredibly juxtaposed nature of wanting to include accessibility options but having the implementation of them being incredibly difficult.

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It is possible to hover over links with screen readers, but I’m not sure how to display the text in the right way. I know often when I click a link that displays information over top of the page I am already on my screen reader presents that to me as a Web Dialog Box. For instance, to use an example from character management and tabletop gaming web sites, Roll20 character sheets open in a web dialog like this when you click them, unless you change a setting to pop out character sheets in separate windows. Perhapse an option in account setting to have the linked content pop out in a separate window or open in a new tab?
I appreciate your awareness of these issues, but I cannot stress enough that I am repeatedly harping on these issues because it has been almost a year since I was told that accessibility is being worked on and I have seen no progress. The vision of bringing high quality digital toolsets to so many games is a good one, but my main concern is that more and more features are rolling out that remain inaccessible, and at this rate I worry that it will be like D&D beyond was in my experience and remain largely inaccessible. I attempted to address concerns with that toolset when it was in early access as well, and I am still unable to get past character creation without encountering parts of it I am unable to get past without help from my wife. Toolsets like Demiplane have a great opportunity to allow a community of gamers from all walks of life to get together and enjoy games without barrier, and that is something I have never experienced in my life before. I have no wish to give offense or to add more difficulties to your already full roadmap, but I need you to understand how incredibly frustrating it is to have reported issues that are stopping me from using your toolset in any effective way and to still be encountering those issues after 9-10 months.

I am sorry you are frustrated with the pace of updates - that is something I hear a whole lot from almost every corner when it comes to software development, and I’ve learned over the years the best thing we can do is seek to improve day by day.

While I understand that no one likes to wait for things (especially the things that directly impact them), I don’t agree with your assessment that there has been “no progress” - that is hyperbole that I don’t believe is true if we look at things as a whole. We have made changes (some of which were based on your own feedback) to update icons for better screen reader literacy, and our team has been working to make several other manual updates in Pathfinder book content now that we’ve identified the best way for us to make those changes at scale (which will release soon). Those learnings have also contributed to newer NEXUSes like ALIEN and another one that will release this week having those updates in place from the start instead of us having to catch them up to the standard we want to have. This is in addition to how the general digitization approach we take with game content already bakes in lessons we’ve learned over the years to make the content more accessible at the ground level than a standard PDF.

Having said all of that, we do absolutely want our digital tools to be useable (and very useful) to as many fans as we can reach with them. So your and everyone’s feedback helps us get there. We will still be working toward that goal every day we come to the office, and we’re committed to getting there even though it will end up taking longer than anyone would like for it to.

We appreciate your interest and time sharing your experience during Early Access, and we will keep trying to improve both the platform and pace as much as we are able.


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I would like to start off by saying that I am gratified to hear that there are accessibility updates in the pipeline and I look forward to their release. I do, however, have several problems with your previous post, which I shall expand upon below.
The difference between the general frustrations of the community at perceived slowness in development and my frustrations with the pace of implementing accessible design is that in my case, the lack of proper accessibility makes it extremely difficult if not downright impossible to use the majority of your features. As it stands right now with the reader, it might as well just be a PDF, because I can’t actually use any of it’s other features at all. In my experience, there is no work-around to speak of, and it has been the same since early access began. As for the labels you have implemented, I can honestly say that I haven’t noticed them. The controls to access the table of contents and such in the reader view continue to be unlabeled, as do the controls within a Demiplane game. If I have missed elements that were unlabeled and are now labeled, then I appologize for the hyperbole of my previous post, but as far as I can tell in my use of this site, the areas I have pointed out labeling issues with still remain, which is especially problematic within a Demiplane game.
I acknoledge that most of my posts in this thread have been very critical, but I would like to end on a more positive note. The compendium as it is right now is very accessible and useful. I find it preferable to the Archives of Nethys site I typically use, particularly with the way Class Feats are made a part of their respective class entries as buttons you can click to expand the full descriptions. This might only be in the mobile view, which is how I have most commonly used the compendium, but I like it a lot. Literally the only drawback with the compendium right now from an accessibility standpoint is the unlabeled action graphics, and it is my hope that these will be resolved along with the other mentioned issues. The compendium is tied with the character builder for me as far as features I prioritize most, and I love how easy it is to use on whatever device I have to hand.

Hello @baelorthebard - we just pushed an update to add the appropriate labels for the action icons within the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, where you will now see them in the Digital Reader and the various Listings (Spells, Items, Creatures, etc.) in the Game Compendium.

No worries at all if you don’t have time to check it out, but if you have a moment, I would appreciate hearing if that is working correctly in your screen reader before we do a mass update of all the rest of the Pathfinder content.

If you can’t get to it in the next couple of days, we’ll go ahead and proceed, but I wanted to check to see.


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Good news @BadEye. I am able to read the action icons with a screen reader now. I tested using the following browser and screen reader combinations, and it worked on all of them.
iOS, Safari browser using VoiceOver screen reader
Windows: Both Firefox and Chrome, using both the Jaws and NVDA screen readers
Will the icons also be labeled in the compendium?
I look forward to more things being labeled.


They should already be working in the compendium with the update we pushed today. If you don’t see them updated there, let me know, but they should be good to go.

We will proceed with updating the rest of the books. Thanks for taking a look!

Hi again Demiplane staff,
I love that I can now correctly read the action graphics. I was wondering if there are any more accessibility fixes in the works? I would be particularly interested in fixes for the links within books in the reader that pop up additional information.
This might be something you’re already aware of, but have you researched the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) at all? I was looking for a link to post for them but since I’m not a developer I wasn’t sure which link would be a helpful resource. Googling Web Content Accessibility Guidelines should get you to the right place though. This might already be something you’re aware of, but if not it might be helpful to you.

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Hello again!

Yes, we are familiar with the web content accessibility guidelines, and they are foundational to the accessibility improvements we will be making throughout the Early Access development period for the platform.

Regarding the tooltip hovercards, we are still working through the best approach as hovering is a challenge. Activating the link (clicking, tapping, entering while the link is “focused”) should open a sidebar drawer (or overlay on mobile) that would provide all the same information for whatever element the link is referring to that should be accessible by screen readers. If that is not working, we can dig in and figure out why.


Yeah hovering is a bit weird with screen readers, but in my current job there are several times when I need to hover the mouse over something in order to access content, and I was surprised to learn that it is actually possible to do, and it’s quite simple. I’m not sure if a lot of people know that though, so the solution you’re working on makes sense to me. I look forward to seeing it in action.

Since this discussion has had to do with screen reader accessibility, I thought I’d post here for ease of use for… well, blind people and for those at Demiplane working on accessibility issues.

I just attempted to create a character sheet and it appears that some of the same and/or similar problems are cropping up with the character creator that occurred with the books. There are multiple things that aren’t labeled and/or just have random numbers with no description of what they are (ex. “10, 10, 10…” I’m presuming that those are supposed to coincide with ability scores but it is unclear whether that’s what they are. After this, there are buttons for different aspects one has to choose to create their character. However, these buttons don’t move one to an area where one needs to pick things. So, for example, if one clicks on “Get Started” nothing happens. Click on Ancestry, same thing. Background… I’m guessing that these buttons bring up drop down menus or lists that a sighted person would see; however, if the button doesn’t jump to that information… it’s kind of a waste. Not only does one not know where the information is or if there is any info but, if one isn’t familiar with Pathfinder 2 (and potentially even if one is familiar), one is likely to get lost and not know what steps one has or hasn’t done. Then, there is the random jumping to the top of the website and suddenly creating a character sheet prior to being finished with it. Going to presume I hit a key that is designated for creating the character sheet but I didn’t think that I had; I was simply attempting to navigate through the process.

Like @baelorthebard, I’m an avid player and, given the serious lack of accessibility of other products – even when companies have been approached to get them to make their work accessible, I’m pleased to see that Demiplane is at least attempting to get it right. At the same time, I inquired about accessibility when Demiplane was just starting to create content for Pathfinder; what I got was akin to yes we’re going to do it but sign up now and we’ll provide it… sometime.

I recognize that you’re in open beta at this point and that you’ve been attempting to work on the various issues as they arise. At the same time, using those of us who have stepped forward as a resource for information, testing, etc., might make the process less painful for everyone.

Hello @gnome5663, thank you for posting.

I’ll share a reply I posted in another thread a few days ago (to baelorthebard in fact) to hopefully illustrate where we are in the process:

(originally posted by baelorthebard) I was really hoping that by this point Demiplane would just label things before releasing them, but it looks like that’s not the case.

This isn’t really the way that software development works, especially when a product is in the alpha / beta parts of its life cycle. We “release” things iteratively all the time, and especially during those testing phases, so in-progress and unfinished code gets pushed alongside things that are complete and whole - often because we are wanting to validate / test whatever that part is. “Decoupling” the unfinished parts from the finished parts takes time, and so during an alpha or beta, we’re not going to spend our time managing that over getting the development done as quickly as we can.

So in this case, making sure all the proper labels are in place is absolutely on the checklist, we just haven’t gotten there yet. But that’s also because we don’t think of the character tools as “released” yet…we’re still in a highly-iterative phase trying to get to the full release.

All that to say, thank you for making sure that it’s on the list because it’s vital that everything works as well as possible on screen readers. We’ll share updates as we have them.

We are recognize fully that we will not be able to get where we want to be with accessibility overnight, but we are committed to getting there.

I completely agree, we appreciate the offer to help, and that help will be invaluable to us as we go through the beta process and make these tools as accessible as we can.

Thanks again!

I meant to reply to that post last week but it’s been a hectic past few days. I imagine it has been for you too getting the beta out.
I want to make it clear that I really do understand your point here about the initial stages of launching this being about developing the main parts and making sure they work. That makes perfect sense, but from my perspective it is incredibly frustrating, and I would like to take a moment and explain why.
To put it simply, if something isn’t screen reader-friendly, blind people either can’t use it or have an extremely difficult time doing so. It’s as simple as that. As things stand now with Pathfinder Nexus, I have no trouble using the compendium, I can use the character builder with a very frustrating amount of guesswork, and I can use the reader as long as I don’t want to use any of the features that make it worth using. I’m not trying to be rude or hurtful here. That is my most frank assessment of where things are at. So when I look at that situation, I understand that your priority is to get the tools working properly, I need you to understand that from my perspective they do not work properly.
A lot of times, I’ll see release notes for apps or programs that announce they’ve added accessibility like it’s a feature. Nobody here has said it like that, but at this point it does feel like that’s how it’s viewed. To me, and I hope to other people with blindness and other disabilities that require accessible design, accessibility is not just a feature, and I will never treat it like it is. I will report accessibility problems as bugs and issues that need to be fixed or solved, because that is how I view them. Right now, Demiplane is a service that is designed in a way that seems very close to accessible to me, but there are still some holes and it’s been my hope that I would see them being closed up during early access. In the year and a half or so that I’ve been using Demiplane, the biggest accessibility fix that I am aware of is that the icons in the PF rulebooks and compendium have been labeled, and I’m happy that it was done. AS far as I know, however, it seems like most of the other stuff I have reported, particularly with the reader, is still not working right. The links that are supposed to pop up stat blocks or other sections of the rules are completely unusable. There are still a lot of unlabeled buttons in the reader and character builder. The responses I have received have always been positive, but it’s been over a year and, although you have often said things like accessibility and screen reader support are important, I’m beginning to feel like it really isn’t.
I don’t know if this post will cause you to re-consider your progress on accessibility and how it gets implemented. I do hope, however, that you might take a moment and consider what it might be like if you were in a situation where the majority of things are not initially designed in a way that you can use them. Sure, you might get the ability down the road, but it might be months, or even years, before that happens. This may seem dramatic to post on a gaming site’s forum, but as you yourself stated, this is how most devs approach accessibility. All I can say is I look forward to the day when that is no longer the case.

I’m sorry that you feel this way. My short response - without any snark intended - is having a character builder is important (now in beta), adding the deities listing is important (in progress but not done), having an encounter builder is important (haven’t gotten to that yet).

There are many things that are important to us, but that doesn’t mean those things can be done immediately. I wish we had been able to get to the beta months ago, and over the years I’ve seen firsthand that software development hardly ever happens as fast as anyone wants it to. If you’re basing your assessment of whether something matters or is important to us on how fast we implement it, then that’s not going to be proportional.

I also remember you acknowledging that the starting point for the character builder here for Pathfinder NEXUS was in a much better place than the other digital toolset I started, so I’ll share that didn’t happen by accident…it is the result of intention and the increased importance that I (and our team) have placed on accessibility as we learn and grow over the last few years.

Better is good, and whether it feels that way to you or not, we are consciously trying to make improvements to accessibility.

I appreciate the post - thanks!

I’m not sure how else to say this so I’m just going to put it in the most direct way possible. I came back to this post to make the point that you shouldn’t treat accessibility like an additional feature to be added eventually, because accessibility is quite litterally necessary for people with some disabilities to access the features you already have. You responded by pointing out the character builder being released later than intended and the eventual encounter builder to point out why work on making the stuff you have already released accessible is going slowly. Can you understand how that is literally the opposite of reassuring? You’re always going to have a new nexus or character builder or whatnot that you’re working on! I know this is an issue that really only matters to a small group of your users, but right now I can’t reliably use any of your tools but the compendium, and that goes for any screen reader user. An encounter builder is really cool. Accessibility is a necessity. It may not feel that way to you because you don’t need it, but I do need it, and so do people with disabilities.
I know that Demiplane is a gaming site and thus is not something that’s essential for me to have access to, but the issue of accessibility and how it’s treated is something that I will fight for in all aspects of my life. I used to be much more laid back about it until an accessibility concern very nearly lost me my job. To make a long story short, I work in insurance and my company is transitioning to a more modern computer system for it’s insurance policies. The version they were using was completely inaccessible, and my supervisor expressed concerns to me about my future with the company if I was unable to use the software once the transition was complete. Until then I had been comfortable waiting on things to just kind of gradually get more accessible like they have been all my life, but I realized that if I didn’t jump on this issue and find a solution immediately I was going to lose my job. It took me months but I finally got to someone who told me they would soon be updating to version 10 of the software, which was accessible. In this case my problem ended up being solved with relatively little fuss, but I had a realization. It took those software devs until version 10 of their software to make the thing accessible. There were 9 whole major releases before that before the “feature” of accessibility was added.
Honestly I wish I had the energy to continue this debate because after reading your reply to my previous post I feel like I completely failed to express my point, and that’s very frustrating. I’m not sure if I’ve made it this time, but I had to give it one more try. Whether I have or not, I’ve already invested too much into sources here to try something else, so I’ll continue pointing out accessibility bugs and hoping.

I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the job - that’s really awful.

I apologize for my hasty example that used software “features” as the list of items. The point I was (failing) to illustrate was more along the lines of in order to make the character builder accessible, we have to first have a character builder. I shared in a previous post that software development is often “get it to work” and then “get it to work right.” There are thousands of moving parts and tasks that make up the entirety of the “character builder” feature, and making it as accessible as we can is certainly part of that.

I also agree with you that historically and still today, the entire technology industry is far behind where it should be on the accessibility front, and that needs to change. I can share that I had multiple conversations today about accessibility (before ever reading these posts), and we honestly discuss accessibility every day within our team. Three years ago in a similar setting, that wasn’t the case - it was a topic brought up maybe weekly or monthly. Five years ago, it was even less frequent than that. I don’t bring this up as a defense or to argue - it is simply a change that I have seen. I know it’s not enough yet, but we are trying to make it better and will continue to try to do so.

I will end there - I know that actions mean more than words, and I have confidence your hope will be realized, even if it’s not as quickly as we all would like. We’ll keep working to get there.

Thanks again!

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“I also agree with you that historically and still today, the entire technology industry is far behind where it should be on the accessibility front, and that needs to change. I can share that I had multiple conversations today about accessibility (before ever reading these posts), and we honestly discuss accessibility every day within our team. Three years ago in a similar setting, that wasn’t the case - it was a topic brought up maybe weekly or monthly. Five years ago, it was even less frequent than that. I don’t bring this up as a defense or to argue - it is simply a change that I have seen. I know it’s not enough yet, but we are trying to make it better and will continue to try to do so.”

OK, let’s be clear about something, the reason the tech industry has not kept current with civil rights laws (because that is what we are discussing here – not a “feature,” not a “convenience,” not even an “I’m frustrated”) is because, until recently, the FCC has not been enforcing the law in relationship to tech and that has to do with the tech industry lobbies continual attempts to avoid putting proverbial steps into the buildings they create and then wondering why people are complaining they can’t enter the building. And, yes, I recognize that the standard practice is to build the house and then build stairs to get into the house but there is something to be said for knowing how to create a set of steps before building the house in the first place or, barring that, building a one-story house at ground level until such time as one figures out how to build stairs. And since the disabled community has been hearing these excuses and “we really mean well” for well over a decade from everything from game designers to web content creators and from big businesses like Blizzard Entertainment and multimillion dollar hospital chains to small organizations and start ups, the statements from designers kind of ring a little flat at this point. You are, after all and in many respects, recreating a wheel that has been made and remade thousands of times before this. Imagine, if you will, wheel manufacturer suggesting they had to first create a wheel that was square, put it out for beta testing and then figure out that what they needed was a circle. Sounds kind of… dumb, doesn’t it? Like, maybe, the entity doesn’t really know what they’re doing but wants the consumer to buy their product anyway…

Honestly, would you, BadEye, purchase from a company that said they really were planning on making a working product but, in the meantime, buy our product anyway? Would any of your colleagues? Baelorthebard did. They are your customer and they told you over a year ago that your books don’t function as advertised. Have the books been fixed? No. At best, a slip shod patch was applied to a small portion of the problem. Personally, I’d demand my money back but that’s just me. I didn’t buy your product because the response I got to a query about it being accessible was, “Um, well, no but we have plans…” If I had a dime for every company that told me that, I’d be richer than Bill Gates.

How about fixing the products one already has on the market – that square wheel that doesn’t roll. Perhaps, in the process, the team will learn how to avoid the various pitfalls that showed up during that experience while designing a character builder. In turn, the very basics won’t be forgotten in the design (ex. basic labeling, making buttons that work, etc.) and one wouldn’t have to try to make excuses for why one built another square wheel, a house with no stairs or doors or windows, etc. Just a thought.

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