Dislectek is a new Unity plug-in that will make your game instantly more accessible to dyslexic players. The plug-in was developed by Dundee’s Lowtek Games in collaboration with InGame and is OUT NOW the Unity Asset Store.
Big chunks of text are often a barrier which prevent dyslexic players from fully understanding and enjoying games, especially if they only have a limited time to read the text. Ally Low, the developer of the plug-in, himself struggles with dyslexia while playing games. Speaking about Dislectek, he explains how players like him can often feel like they are being left out:
“We have all missed out on so many amazing gaming moments because we can’t read well. From games with ritch backstories, witty dialogue or lengthy tutorials with text heavy UI systems.”
Dislectek addresses this issue by allowing all in-game text to be read aloud using their hardware’s built-in text-to-speech system. At any time, the player can bring up a pop-up menu which will pause the action, giving them the time they need to fully understand the information being conveyed.
Dislectek current supports Windows and Mac with plans to support further platforms in the future. Utilising built-in text-to-speech features makes it incredibly easy for Unity developers to integrate Dislectek into their projects. At the same time, it also allows players to listen to a familiar voice – probably the same one they use daily on their computers.
Another smart feature of Dislectek is the ability to have the text read aloud in the background, meaning the player can continue playing while listening, just like they might with an “audiolog” in games like Bioshock or Gone Home.
A Universal Solution
Ally Low has spoken with SGN before about his experiences as a dyslexic player. The idea to create Dislectek arose from his dissatisfaction at current accessibility options. While supposed quick-fix solutions like typefaces specifically designed to be dyslexic friendly and colour overlays may work for some, they certainly aren’t effective for everyone. In fact, Low recently explained at the Playaway Festival they can actually make the problem worse, and have been proven in numerous studies to have little impact on reading ability in most cases.
In an effort to help non-dyslexic players empathise with his experiences, Low developed A Familiar Fairytale in 2019, a text adventure that mimics the jumbling up of letters and “swimming” text effect that dyslexic players perceive.
A Better Future
Dislectek is available now and takes as little as a few minutes to implement. For small teams without the budget nor expertise to develop their own dyslexic friendly features, it’s a fantastic way to make your game instantly more accessible. Making game more accessible is a responsibility all developers should take seriously and Dislectek is great step towards a better gaming future for all.