Family Games – Adapted by YOU!
How in the world can you play your family’s favorite games with a child who is blind or visually impaired? YOU get creative! Many of you have met my son Greg who is now 16 – he loves playing many games with family and friends, and playing games teaches many skills – from manual dexterity (learning to shuffle cards, roll dice, move pieces on a crowded board) to good sportsmanship, patience when waiting your turn, etc.
Choose from this list of tools to help you adapt games and cards in ways to help your child fully participate in the action!
- Hot glue
- Puffy Paint
- Wicky Sticks
- Hi–Marks (available from specialty catalogs like Maxi-Aids and Independent Living)
- Silicone dots (like those used for bumpers for cabinet doors, etc)
- Magnets (some come with sticky backs on them)
- Paper ring reinforcements
- Perkins Brailler
- Braille Dymo Labeler
- Peg Boards
I use hot glue for lines on the squares on the board, such as Monopoly, so that Greg can move his own pieces, or others’ pieces, on the board. If a game comes with all similar pieces that are only different by color, we use things like pennies, hardware like nuts or washers, or any other little pieces of things that we can find hanging around. Braille dice are available, but Greg says he can tell what is on most regular dice. Wicky Sticks (simply string – like candle wicking – coated in colored wax) works for lines that have to be moved during the course of the game. We put as much Braille on the playing cards as makes sense.
For instance, Monopoly cards only have the name of the property on them. It would be too much to put all the information held in print on them (which is why the Brailled version of the game costs a fortune!). So we make compromises with convenience and cost in mind. Greg uses some of the plastic inserts in the game box to manage his money – and yes, he has successfully been the banker, too!
Greg has a very nice chess set that a friend of ours retrofitted for him. He pegged all the pieces with metal pegs, and drilled holes in the board and put washer-sized magnets under the board so the pieces would stay upright. Each dark square is a separate piece of wood glued to the top of the board, so it is slightly higher than the light squares. He also carefully drilled out the tops of all the white pieces and inserted a metal screw to differentiate between the black and white chessmen.
Chess is actually played best on two chess boards simultaneously, with both players moving the all the pieces. This gives the blind player just as much time to study the board – with his hands – as the sighted opponent, and the game goes much faster this way, too, especially if both players are blind.
Greg loves maps, and we even did a map of Middle Earth when the Lord of the Rings movies started coming out (and yes, we’ve all read all the books, too!) I used hot glue to represent coastlines, and piled the hot glue up to make mountain ranges. On regular maps, I used Wicky Sticks to indicate political boundaries (those between countries or states) and used Braille label tape to indicate the names of places.
“Apples to Apples” is by far the most popular easily adapted game and our kids love to play it – it comes in a Junior version and a more adult version (complete with Richard Nixon!) also called the party version with lots and lots of cards. This gives parents a ton of practice using the Perkins Brailler!
Many sets of playing cards come in large print versions, and those can be Brailled, too, if you have one child who needs large print and another who needs Braille. Kids with different visual needs can play together.
“Upwords” is a great choice for a board word game – the board is actually raised plastic squares, and all the pieces (easily Brailled with label tape) fit fairly securely on the squares and on each other – this is Scrabble played vertically! Sometimes we play “Double Quick”, which is a fast version of “Scrabble” where you make your own individual puzzle in front of you, and Greg uses the “Upwards” board to keep his pieces from going all over the place. We also put all the pieces in the lid of the games box to keep them together.
Sometimes we play in teams (especially trivia games!) and sometimes we just modify the speed at which we play to allow for Greg to feel for what is going on, or sometimes the rules simply include saying verbally what you played – say for “Uno” or another card game. I think this year at Challenge Mountain we’d like to teach a bunch of you to play Euchre!
Taken from December, 2010 Newsletter of the Michigan Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (MPVI) written by Gwen Botting, President and Editor
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