Hearthstone Access: Mainstream Made Accessible – But Not By The Developers

Hearthstone is a card game where you collect cards to battle it out with your friends. 

For the last few years, it has not been accessible for the blind, but that all changed in August 2021 when GuideDev (a programmer dedicated to making Hearthstone playable for blind players) released the first version of Hearthstone Access. A mod which he made by hacking into the source code of none other than Blizzard Entertainment to make the game accessible. 

This has been done by making the game playable with a screen-reader and implementing keyboard shortcuts and additional features to help the blind enjoy it as much as possible. 

GuideDev didn’t have any help from Blizzard in making the game accessible. He sacrificed a lot of time and effort to program the accessibility mod for the game, writing tens of thousands of lines of code to get this project done. 

This is an extremely important milestone for the blind community. We haven’t seen anything like this before. In fact, his efforts sparked a trend, and now various other games are being “modded” for accessibility. 

The mod includes accessible menus, and information about different cards can be easily obtained by a blind player. 

So far, you can craft cards to make your custom decks, play through the “Book of Heroes”, battle it out in ranked and casual matches or play against your friends, along with sending chat messages to them. More recently, the Battlegrounds mode has been made accessible, so if you want to try that, you can do that too! 

If you want to find out more about Hearthstone Access, you can go to hearthstoneaccess.github.io.

Many blind people have made videos about Hearthstone Access, some focusing on accessibility, some simply playing the game and having fun. 

Here are some of the notable ones: 

Liam Erven 

Leonian Universe 

SightlessWolf (Hey, look, that’s me!) 

Hearthstone Access has been translated into several languages, including French and Spanish, by the blind community playing it. So, if English isn’t your first language, don’t worry! It’s already been translated and is ready to play. 

It’s a fun option, with lots of possibilities and an incredible soundscape, with music and fantastic sound design. So, jump in and try it — you might find your new favourite game. 

By SightlessWolf

I'm a programmer from Australia, lead developer at SightlessWolf entertainment and aspiring music producer.

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