Someone recently posed the question: “Where can I find rune casting supplies for a blind person?” At first, I wondered what this had to do with accessible gaming, but then realized that this site is, or should be, about more than just board games. Accessibility is an important issue in all walks of life, and while I can’t begin to cover everything, this particular subject strikes home with me. You see, I just started taking a Nordic Shamanism class myself, so raised or tactile runes are suddenly a concern to me as well. While I didn’t have an answer for this question off hand, I’ve begun the search for accessible runes of my own, and hopefully in doing so can bring them to light for others.
In this case, when I speak of runes I speak of objects that contain significant spiritual power to those of the Norse faith. I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject by any means — I just started taking this class, after all — but I encountered these Norse runes even on my first day. I immediately understood the desire to have runes carved in such a manner as to be accessible; the ones the professor of the class had brought with her were hand-painted rocks, and paint is not particularly tactile. I immediately had a few thoughts on how to improve their design:
1. The easiest way to modify the runes for a blind person would be to use tactile glue lines to trace the rune lines on the rocks. This would, of course, require glue that would stick to the surface of the rock, clay, or other material on which the runes are traced. The glue would also need to hold up to a lot of use over time. Some kind of super glue would probably work best, and a sighted person with a steady hand could help one put the runes together initially.
2. There may be runes that are carved particularly deep in to the material they are built upon. I am still in search of a set of runes that are cut sufficiently deep enough to be felt tactilly as opposed to being observed visually. This set of runes look as though they may just do the trick, and their description even suggests that they are tactile. Unfortunately they are a bit outside of the current budget, and I will have to report on them later, once I’ve had a chance to purchase and use them.
3. After a few phone calls, a third solution came up. The idea was to have a custom set of runes made from clay, but instead of the runes being engraved in the clay, the clay would be molded in to the shape of each rune individually. There is only one rune among the 24 Elder Futhark set that wouldn’t work in this manner, as the rune is comprised of two seperated shapes. However, there is a modified version of the same rune, with as much spiritual significance, that could be forged from a single piece of clay and would make a fitting substitute.