Playing Around with Accessible Games

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Checkers board game
Checkers board game

Games are a necessary part of human development.  They encourage interactions with others, provide opportunities to work on teams, teach the importance of following rules, and perhaps most importantly they build problem solving skills.  Not to mention, they are a fun way to take a break from work or school!

Think about one of your favorite games.  Yahtzee?  Checkers?  A specific video game?  Imagine the challenges you might face if you had limited mobility in your hands, or your low vision made it difficult to read small print.  Fortunately, advances in assistive technology have made many popular games more accessible so that everyone can enjoy them.  Let’s look at some examples.

Blind/Visually Impaired

  1. Checkers – MaxiAid offers a checkers board that has raised squares for one color and recessed squares for the other, so that the players can feel the difference.  The “kings” are also double the size of the regular pieces.
  2. Scrabble – The Deluxe Braille version of this game comes with an audio tape and has braille on the board, the tiles, and comes with braille instructions.  Alternatively, if you are not completely blind but have some vision loss you can purchase the Low Vision Scrabble Tiles.  These tiles will fit a regular game board but have larger letters that are easy to read on a white background.
  3. Tactile Connect Four – This game has been adapted so that the black discs have a hole in the middle of them for easy identification.
  4. Braille/Low Vision Monopoly – The board itself is textured so that everything on it can be identified by touch.  It contains braille dice, braille instructions, and braille on the board.  The cards are extra large with both braille and large print.

Hearing Impaired

  1. Sign Language Puzzle – Remember those wooden peg puzzles you played with as a kid?  Now you can teach the letters of the alphabet in American Sign Language (ASL) with this classic game.  Pictures of handshapes for each letter are displayed on the pieces.
  2. Bingo – Harris Communications supplies a sign language game called ASLingo.  This game is exactly like Bingo, but with pictures of hands signing instead of printed numbers.
  3. Dice – Yes, yes, Sign Language again, but it’s such a fun way to learn!  This set of dice has the ASL handshapes instead of dots.

Mobility Impaired

  1. Limited Dexterity Triple Joystick Big Button Controller – The name says it all.  Big buttons that can be hit with a fist and joysticks with “sticky” rubber so they are easy to move with your palms.  Can be used for most game systems.
  2. Sip & Puff Mouth Joystick Game Controller – This controller grants you access to all 12 of the buttons on a Playstation 2 controller.  Check out the video demo here to watch how it operates.
  3. Hi Ho Cherry-O – This is a classic counting game that has been adapted for children without fine motor skills.  It has 2 large switch plates that make the game easy to operate.  It is currently available from Enabling Devices.

Autism/LD

  1. Mind Reading computer game – The focus of this software is to help its user build social skills.  It contains six different people that display over 400 emotions for reference.  Autism Coach offers this computer software for both Macs and PCs.
  2. Scribble and Sing Art Station – This cute little game inspires enjoyable art activities.  www.ableplay.org provides a detailed description of how this Crayola product can assist those with cognitive difficulties, sensory issues, and communication. Read their review here.

Accessible Computer game resources (both online and offline):

http://universalaccessgames.com/

http://www.ebility.com/links/games.php

http://www.arcess.com/