Hearthstone is a popular free-to-play online digital card game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The game is a turn-based card game between two opponents and features characters and elements from the Warcraft series. Hearthstone was first released in 2014 and still has millions of players all around the world.
Hearthstone Access is a custom Hearthstone mod built by Guide Dev that makes Hearthstone accessible for visually impaired screen-reader users who wouldn't otherwise be able to enjoy the game. For the time being, you can:
Once you've gone through all of this, you'll probably want to move on to other things such as playing against other players or going through Hearthstone's solo adventures to learn more about the lore of Warcraft. While these things aren't available yet, I do intend to work on them if there's enough interest. In the meantime, several players have successfully been using OCR to access other areas of the game and created Golden Cursor scripts for NVDA players who would like to use them. You can find these in the FAQ section.
For the time being, you can only play Hearthstone Access if you're using Windows. If you understand english, it's highly recommended that you use the english version of the game as other languages aren't officially supported. However, Polish, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese are now available and other languages are being localized by contributors. Note that while most popular screen readers appear to be compatible, Hearthstone Access was fully developed and tested using NVDA. If the game is unable to detect your screenreader for some reason, it will fall back to using Microsoft's Speech API.
Blizzard games are installed and updated through their own launcher called Battle.net. In order to play, you must first install Hearthstone and patch it using Hearthstone Access afterwards.
The easiest way to patch Hearthstone is to use the Hearthstone Access accessible patcher which automatically finds your Hearthstone installation and patches the game. However, although the code is open source, you may not feel comfortable running unknown programs in your computer. If so, please use the manual process described further down.
Whenever Blizzard patches Hearthstone or releases a new expansion, your game will automatically update and your version of Hearthstone will no longer be accessible until you patch it again. This normally happens every other week and I do have to update and release a new version of Hearthstone Access when it does, so you may have to wait a few hours depending on how complex the update was and on how busy I am at the time.
If you're using the patcher, all you need to do is run HearthstoneAccess.exe again and everything will be handled automatically for you. If you're doing it manually, you'll have to follow the manual process again using the new version.
New players are encouraged to simply launch the game and progress through the tutorial, as most commands will be taught as you play. If you've played Hearthstone in the past before becoming visually impaired, you should still start by creating a new account just so you can go through the tutorial again. While you may already know the rules, you'll still need to learn how to play using a screen-reader and keyboard commands. Once you've finished the tutorial, feel free to go back to your old account and pick up where you left off.
|Open game menu||Escape|
|Toggle Accessibility to allow sighted users to control the game||F8|
|Decrease game speed so opponents play slower||F11|
|Increase game speed so opponents play faster||F12|
|Read previous option||upArrow|
|Read next option||downArrow|
|Read next card in zone||rightArrow|
|Read previous card in zone||leftArrow|
|Read first card in zone||Home|
|Read last card in zone||End|
|Read next card line||downArrow|
|Read previous card line||upArrow|
|Repeat current card line||Shift+upArrow|
|Read card to end||Shift+downArrow|
|Read next valid play||Tab|
|Read previous valid play||Shift+Tab|
|Cancel current action||Backspace|
|End turn without asking for confirmation if more valid plays exist||Shift+e|
|See how much mana you have||a|
|See how much mana your opponent has||Shift+a|
|Look at your hand||c|
|Count the cards in your opponent's hand||Shift+c|
|Look at your minions||b|
|Look at your opponent's minions||g|
|Look at your Hero||v|
|Look at your opponent's Hero||f|
|Send all your minions to attack your opponent's Hero||Shift+f|
|Look at your Hero Power||r|
|Look at your opponent's Hero Power||Shift+r|
|Look at your weapon||w|
|Look at your opponent's weapon||Shift+w|
|Look at your secrets||s|
|Look at your opponent's secrets||Shift+s|
|Count the cards in your deck||d|
|Count the cards in your opponent's deck||Shift+d|
|Get more information about a focused card's abilities||i|
|Open the play history log||y|
|Read next card||rightArrow|
|Read previous card||leftArrow|
|Read next page||pageDown|
|Read previous page||pageUp|
|Jump to next class||Tab|
|Jump to previous class||Shift+Tab|
|Read first card in page||Home|
|Read last card in page||End|
I got a few complaints about this happening once or twice to a few people. However, I'm not sure this is an issue with the mod itself given that a few sighted players have mentioned it happening to them as well occasionally.
If you run into this, press F8 to disable accessibility and click somewhere on the screen with your left mouse button. If it works, press F8 again to reenable accessibility and carry on. If it doesn't work, the problem is most likely a bug in Hearthstone itself and you will need to restart the game. Note that you won't lose anything by restarting the game. You may miss out on reading some rewards if you leveled up, but they will be added to your collection regardless.
Only 3 players have reported this so far, so it seems to be a very rare issue. In any case, this issue happens either when the game window is extremely thin or the screen is in portrait mode instead of landscape. As an example: if you think of a normal 1080p resolution, the game window would have a width of 1920 pixels and a height of 1080 pixels. If this is happening to you, it means your game window somehow has a width of about 200 pixels even if the height is 1080. With a window like this, the board doesn't fit on the screen so the game is unplayable even for sighted players.
The solution is simply to fix the game window proportions by changing to landscape mode or adjusting the resolution depending on what the underlying issue is. Note that you can reach the game menu by pressing Escape if you need to change the resolution.
I can't really answer for Blizzard. Patching games is a bit of a grey area and you should always do so at your own risk. However, I sincerely hope people are generally ok with it given that it doesn't provide anyone with an unfair advantage. If anything, it helps counter the unfair disadvantage many gamers unfortunately have.
I wish I could do it any other way but it's simply not possible. A patch was the only viable option I could find and I hope that the fact that the code for the patch itself is open source provides enough transparency for people to be comfortable with it.
I'm happy to work something out with Blizzard to verify the patches if needed. I'd be a lot happier if someone from Blizzard simply took the code and used it to implement accessibility into the game itself though. If anyone who works there happens to be looking for a cool hackathon idea, consider this my suggestion.
I'm not sure where this came from but I was asked to address it. Using Hearthstone Access to create a bot would be at least 100 times harder and produce a significantly weaker bot than simply reading log files and performing mouse clicks or writing a Hearthstone Deck Tracker plugin to do it.
Creating a capable bot for a game such as Hearthstone is extremely complex and a good AI research topic. Creating a bot capable of constructing a board with the speech this mod outputs is a good PhD thesis.
Keep in mind that the challenge of writing a bot has nothing to do with being able to control the game using the mouse or keyboard commands. Making the game controllable with the keyboard is a couple of hours type of work. Making a decent bot is a couple of years type of work.
Yes! Hearthstone Access is and always will be free to use.
Hearthstone Access is free for everyone and updates will be released for everyone at the same time. Patrons and donators don't get any exclusive perks. They simply support me so I can dedicate more time to working on these initiatives.
Absolutely. While english is the only officially supported language, several people have volunteered to localize the mod to other languages.
At the moment, Polish, European Spanish, Mexican Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese are all available due to the awesome contributions of Nuno, Alisson, pildain, AAyoubelbakhti and sanslash332. If you'd like to contribute, you can find more details here.
Note that even if no one has localized the mod into your particular language, many gamers have successfully been playing localized versions of the game. Most speeches will simply be a bit weird since you'll hear a mix of english with your native language.
I'll use the feedback from the community to decide which features to work on next and provide regular updates on twitter and patreon whenever I start working on something new. Keep in mind this is a side project and while I'll try my best to deliver new features in a timely manner, progress will be limited to my availability.
Niki, Lirin and blindndangerous maintain a file for 1920x1080 resolution here.
LordLuceus maintains a file for 1366x768 resolution here.
If you need help with any of these, note that all maintainers can be reached on Discord and are generally happy to help.
You can find an invite link to join the Discord server here.
I currently have no plans on supporting other operating systems as my availability is limited enough as it is and Windows is by far the most popular choice among visually impaired people.
Release notes will always be published here.
Hearthstone Access is and always will be free to use. However, developing new features while keeping up with Blizzard patches and expansions requires significant time and effort. If you enjoy the game and would like to support this and other initiatives, I'm currently accepting one-time donations on PayPal and patrons on Patreon.