Games for Blind People
Masters Traditional Games is interested in providing games and advice for people who are blind (for the visually impaired, please see our separate page). This page is for games (whether we sell them or not) that have been successfully played and enjoyed by people who are blind. We have worked with blind games enthusiast, Ednun Pourtahmasbi to establish which games work best and how to play with them. Some games need minor modifications for a blind person and we give advice on how best to achieve this. Other games can be played by a blind person but only against someone who is sighted and we explain how this works. There are some excellent generic ways to modify games for play by blind people as follows:
- The RNIB sell clear rubber dots called 'Bumpons' that can be attached to pieces to distinguish them. This technique is most commonly used to determine light pieces from dark.
- Braille stickers on sticky black plastic are an obvious way to convert writing on boards and cards. Also from the RNIB.
- Velcro pads are ideal for keeping pieces from being moved or knocked over. Stick them to the board and the underside of the playing pieces.
- If a game features balls or marbles of two colours, you can swap the marbles of one colour with marbles that have a rough surface.
- It is possible to glue sand to the pieces of one colour to distinguish from the other. This has been done successfully with Quarto pieces in the past.
Please click this link for more information on making board games accessible.
See also: Games for visually impaired people.
Games That Blind People Can Play
Mancala is possibly the easiest and best of all traditional board games for Blind people as it has only one type of piece and needs no modification to play. However, it is important to pick a board with deep pits that can hold at least ten pieces without starting to overflow and to include pieces that are easy to hold and pickup. Pieces that won't roll are advisable.
Only 16 squares and easy to feel pieces make this a good option. Needs modification to enable differentiation between light and dark pieces - we suggest RNIB bumpons. You will need to Velcro the board and undersides of the pieces. Obtain the standard version - the mini version is too fiddly.
There are only 2 pieces for the 2 player game but the board and pieces will need Velcro. The maze dividing walls can slide around quite easily, though, so caution is needed. Obtain the standard version - the mini version won't work.
At least one Blind person successfully learned Chess using a talking Chess computer set. He labelled the buttons and squares on the talking chess set but needed a separate tactile board to play. The computer used was a Saitek Kasparov Talking Chess Academy. These can be found on Ebay or there may be modern equivalents.
With nice chunky shapes, this puzzle is also a game that can be played by blind people without modification. The board dividers are numbered and although it would be possible to simply count from one end, braille stickers would be more convenient. The only difficulty is that each new challenge is given in a table in the rule book so either this will need to be read by a sighted person or a version that is braille or tactile will need to be created.
An ancient and medieval game that is still played today. Some 9 Mens Morris games have pieces which are pegs or marbles that fit into holds in the board. Then you only need to find a way to distinguish the colours - bumpons should work.
This one needs a bit of work but as it's the oldest complete board game every found at more than 5000 years old, some will feel it's worth it. We sell a version of the game that is wooden with little dividers between the squares that will hold the pieces in place. You will need 3 or 4 binary dice - these can be easily simulated with ordinary tactile dice or to be more genuine use split sticks - rounded on one side and flat on the other. Distinguish the pieces using bumpons. Then you just need to find a way to identify the squares with rosettes which could be done with more bumpons or perhaps a sticker with a rough surface.
Some versions of reversi are pegged and the branded version Othello is usually played on a board with indentations for the pieces. Each piece is black on one side and white on the other. Sticking a rough surface or some other way of distinguishing the colours should work but will be somewhat laborious.
Shut the Box is a dice game. Put braille stickers on to the shutters so that the numbers can be read and use tactile dice. The RNIB sell tactile dice and also a version of Shut the Box for the blind.
Liar's dice is great fun and no reason why blind people using tactile dice can't play on a par with sighted folks.
Cribbage boards are essentially tactile and can be used for scoring many games beyond Cribbage and dominoes. Cribbage itself can be adapted easily, with the use of braille cards and a rule that the suit and rank of each card is announced as it is played, not just the value.
The Hasbro branded version called Frustration has pieces that insert into the plastic board. With a way to distinguish the colours, it works. The popper dice gimmick needs to be ignored in favour of tactile dice, mind you.
Connect 4 and other 4 in a row games should be adaptable for playing by making the pieces of one colour distinguishable from the other - perhaps by putting a sticker or a rough surface on to them.
Once you have acquired tactile dice, a dice tray is a convenient accessory for ensuring they stay under control and don't get lost.
Puzzles For Blind People
We would also recommend Hanayama who make tactile physical puzzles.
Not all solitaire boards work well for blind people. Boards with balls work best but avoid boards with shallow pits that allow the balls to be knocked out of position too easily. Peg boards can work but only if the pegs are short and fit snugly into the holes.
With nice chunky shapes, this puzzle can be played by blind people without modification. Board dividers are numbered - we recommend replacing with braille stickers. The only difficulty is that each new challenge is given in a table in the rule book so this will need to be read by a sighted person or better yet, create a translated version that is braille or tactile.
Games That We Don't Sell That Work for Blind People
This page is intended to be a general guide; not as a selling tool for us! Accordingly, here is a list of other games that we understand work well for blind people.
- The Arabian Pots is specifically designed with blind people in mind.
- Children's games that can work well include Dinobite, Crocodile Dentist & Hungry Hippos.
Other Retailers and Websites Selling and Advising on Games for Blind People
- The RNIB shop sells a few games designed specifically for blind people. At June 2018, they have tactile versions of Chess, Draughts, Backgammon, Scrabble, Boggle, Dominoes and Dice games, although it must be said that most of these games are reported to be designed quite badly and better alternatives exist. More usefully, they also sell components for making games more accessible like velcro pads and bumpons.
- The British Go Association have a page on playing Go without vision.
- Also, 64 Ounce Games make 3D printed Braille dice, Braille card sleeves and Braille overlays for a few games.
- The Braille Chess association will give you chequerboards at discounted price if you join, but you are expected to join for 5 years to offset that cost somewhat.
- Nestorgames sales sell Squava - Accessible edition.
Games Reported As Good For Blind People But Not Yet Confirmed
- Dr. Shark is about feeling different textures in a bag. We suspect modification will be required - let us know if you have more information.
- Master Fox - more of a children's game involving gathering pieces by feel. Definitely can work but details are not yet known.
- Peeper - Untested
- Can't Stop - Untested
- Igloo Pop is another based on sound differentiation.
- Patchwork - Blind people can enjoy the tactile nature of placing the tiles. Velcro pads will probably help.
- Cubist. A sighted person needs to show what can be built from the current installation cards. Nice and Tactile.
Games That Don't work for Blind People
We have come across reports of a variety of games purported to work well for blind people but when we've tried them, we have not found it to be true. We've also included in the list below a few that we've tried which haven't worked.
- King of Tokyo is often reported to be accessible for blind people but it involves cards, scoreboards and a board that make it nigh on impossible in our opinion.
- We read that Power Grid can work - we cannot see how.