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Just Wondering 
Does anyone ever put thought into making their maps/mods/whatever accessible? And I mean to people with disabilities, not necessarily newbies. 

No, seriously. What?

How would that even work, surely it's down to the control interface/device rather than the design of a given map? 
Interface Vs. Content Design 
Let's consider the case of websites.

A blind person may have a text-to-speech device that reads the website. This is all fine and good, but what happens when part of the site's content is an image? And I don't mean a screenshot of a game. You'll notice that some people will have email addresses stored in an image to prevent web crawlers from picking them up and adding the address to a spam database. But what happens if there is no alt text for the image? The blind person has no way to email the author of the site because the screen reader can't read the address. This could potentially be a big issue, especially if this email address is the only means to apply for a job. The employer is no longer providing an equal opportunity for all potential applicants.

For websites, the list goes on and on.

Navigation items should be in lists. Screen readers offer the ability to skip over lists, so if a blind person doesn't want to navigate to a different page yet he/she can skip over the menu and proceed to the content.

Links should avoid using the same link text as a previous link on the same page. When someone is cycling through the links on a page, this makes it easier to identify what is being linked to instead of relying on nearby contextual clues.

So clearly the interface is important (in the above examples, that would be the screen reader), but the design and implementation of the content is also very important. Even if someone is using a common interface, such as a stock installation of FireFox, you should still consider content design and avoid red text on a green background since red-green color blindness is a relatively common phenomenon. 
I Don't Know Enough 
About the speech tools used, apart from that they're pretty useless (or were) on lots of pronounciations.

Context plz?

What would constitute a decent setup outside of web design? 
Don't Worry About It 
It won't matter once we all have occipital jacks, so let's just work on developing those, ok? 
Map Swap 
There should be a central map scrap hub at quaddicted. I'd sure as hell contribute! 
There Is Audio Quake
I never got it to run though. 
Random Thought 
I shall dedicate this weekend to playing through the entire original Quake on hard or nightmare. Been quite a few years since I last did that.

Afterwards, perhaps Scourge of Armagon (missionpack1) as well. 
I could see Accessibility being a more relevant concept to engine design rather than content design, since the engine controls how people interface with the content.

But, Quake is more a medium of art rather than a medium for conveying information; as such the delivery is what matters. Accessibility is about delivering the message differently so it's available to more people, but the message without the artistic delivery misses the point of art.

So for example, gl_picmip could be considered an accessibility feature, it certainly makes it easier to "play" the game but makes it harder to experience the art of the game.

I can also see people re-mapping the controls to different hardware if they have some physical problem that makes it hard to use the mouse and keyboard. The game already supports this too, it's more a question of what trackball, joystick, etc. is available that actually works well for people. 
There should be a central map scrap hub at quaddicted. I'd sure as hell contribute!

Yes, Please 
Send them in. Public Domain (such like "Do anything you want with it, giving credit would be nice" (but you don't have to)) or GPL only, I will reject anything else. 
I Am German So There Must Be Rules And Order 
ZIP. Named like the included .map file or All filenames lowercase. Include at least one textfile explaining at least the license. Name that textfile like the zip (name it readme.txt and I will stab you with a Quake rune). 
Oh wait, how about a _src suffix for the zip and txt? That sounds more reasonable.

Bottom line, make sure the file can be extracted to a maps directory without overwriting anything there. 
More On Interface Vs. Content Design 
So how should one address audio cues? This is an admixture of level and game design. In Quake 3, when your player is hit you hear an audio cue, a splatter of blood in the area of the screen closest to the source of the damage, the player's head in the HUD turns in the direction of the damage, etc. However, that's clearly game design and outside the control of a mapper. On the other hand, several times the only cue--or the most predominant cue--I've seen about how to proceed in a map is an audio cue, such as a strange sound coming from behind a wall that you must break down.

And then there's spawning enemies behind the player. For normal audio players, this can be a sneaky tactic, but the player is indeed warned about what is happening because of the audio cue. A deaf player will have no warning whatsoever, and for shambler attacks this can be quite devastating and thus frustrating because they had no warning for such a high penalty.

For more general level design accessibility concerns, we can talk about maps that require dexterous movements, such as curve jumping, strafe jumping, or generally a long jump that requires perfect timing. Someone who has no visual or auditory impairment but who does have general motor control difficulties may not be able to complete the map, even though the original Quake maps didn't have such a barrier.

I certainly agree that for comprehensive accessibility you would need to begin from the ground up with the engine, then the game code, then the game content. But I don't think that saying Quake is primarily about art is sufficient justification for not making simple accommodations. My first complaint with that argument is that it seems to imply that the gameplay is not as important as the art. IMO, the map should be just as fun to play whether it's monochrome or full color. And if you build a map (or game) and then take out all the amazing visuals only to find that it's no longer worth playing, then you're doing something wrong and I would no longer classify your product as a "game." In that case, at the core there was no playing; it was just navigating inside a painting or a movie set, possibly with some frustrating elements added.

Note: I'm playing the devil's advocate here. I've only heard of one person in the Quake community who had accessibility issues (he was deaf), and probably anyone who is still playing Quake has found some way to adapt to it. Everyone else has probably moved on. On the other hand, the response so far indicates that in general no one here has been thinking of accessibility issues, which are becoming an increasing concern in the computer world in general, so I'm very much interested in discussing this stuff with anyone who is interested. Please post your thoughts! 
More Specific Responses: 
ijed: I'm actually quite impressed with text-to-speech these days. My TTS GPS does an amazing job of reading road names in English, which, of course, is a notoriously non-phonetic language.

Spirit: Thanks for the link! I'm going to try to check that out. 
But Can They Say 'Guinness' 
That's the ultimate test ;)

I remember an article about HL2 praising the subtitle option. Seems obvious enough now, but a few short years ago it was new and inventive.

And it's still not applied as a standard. 
I like the criticism RPG raises, there is a metaphor that explains a lot of them away: a Quake level is an obstacle course made of art. 
Are all games an obstacle course made of art? If not, why is Quake different?

Maybe I'm not clear what you mean. I had fun making and running through obstacle courses as a kid. It didn't matter if I was climbing a "boring" wall or Michelangelo's David; it was still fun. 
The point I intended to make is that no one bothers to make obstacle courses accessible to quadriplegics :) 
i think that pretty much fully addresses the issue here.

fps levels are visual medium first and an audio medium second.

if you can't see, you're missing out on say 70% of the level. even if there was a way to convey the visuals to someone who was blind, would they enjoy it at all?

i'm not blind, so i can't say for certain, but having a voice over explain to me what the atrium looks like and where the exits are isn't really appealing. i'd rather just put on a good song or something. 
So If You Have Any Disability, You Should Not Play Quake? 
inertia: But we make education accessible to people with mental disabilities, no? No one is expecting them to win a Nobel Prize (although some could--keep in mind there are far more types of mental disabilities than retardation and autism); however, our society says it is unacceptable not to make reasonable accommodations for them. Should we therefore make no effort to create a bionic suit so that a quadriplegic could run an obstacle course? Or if you lost a leg (god forbid), should we not provide you with a prosthetic limb so that you could still run the obstacle course?

necros: But not everyone who is disabled is blind. Even if we restrict the discussion to only visual impairment, there is a full range of problems. These include total blindness, color blindness, only having peripheral vision, only being able to see shapes and not fine detail, and the list goes on. For most visual problems it probably would be most effective to change the engine or monitor. But what about other disabilities? 
I'm on your side here, I'm about as egalitarian as anyone I've ever met--but you can't pretend that listening to a symphony in Braille is equivalent to hearing it. I'd like the disadvantaged to have the ability to approximate the experience to the fullest extent possible, but it won't be the same (we should try, it's worth it, but it will not be the same (until we get our neural plugs)). With Quake, I really don't know how to approximate it for those who suffer from deafness/blindness/immobility. 
Don't Devolve The Conversation 
There are no sides.

Designing with impairment in mind is a short step away from what we do anyway. I think that's what RPG was driving at.

I'm guessing he's come into contact with someone recently who has trouble playing games but likes to.

Until the day that you plug cables into your head there'll always be problems. We don't lower the kerb on street corners because we're good people.

9/10 suffer from a mental disability. (9/10 statistics are made up on the spot). But why do we not just let the crippled, the useless, the broken, to die on the kerb. It's not guilt, or conscionce.

I like to think, through making games, that I'm not just wasting everone's time. That I'm contributing soemthing to the advancement of us.

Everything we do is based on what we know. Is anyone out there without friends or family that are fucked up in some way?

Good night, try the veal. Drink is the only thing that shuts the fucker down. 
Are There Painters That Try To Paint For Blind People? 
Was Beethoven Deaf? 
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