Combat Boredom and Isolation: Inexpensive Tactile Games for People of All Ages Who Are Deaf-Blind and/or Have Hearing Problems with Low Vision Written By: Heather Schoenwald, M.S and Stephanie Brumbaugh
June 29, 2010
Over time, we have heard the expression: “I am so bored” from various people who are Deaf-Blind or Deaf/ Hard-of-Hearing with Low Vision. Many are unable to play games with others because of their vision problems. Our solution was to establish “Deaf-Blind Game Night” at Chestnut Lane; an assisted living facility located in Gresham, Oregon; that focuses on those who are Deaf, Deaf and Blind. In order to provide games for the “Deaf-Blind Game Night” we took existing games and made them into Low Vision and Tactile versions at a lower cost. Games we had seen in Low Vision catalogs seemed too expensive and did not meet some of the visual/ tactile needs that we were concerned about.
Many people have asked me, how do Deaf-Blind and/or people with Low Vision play games? Anyone, young or old, sighted, Blind, or with Low Vision can play these games. The purpose of using tactile materials is so that the person can feel the game without having to depend on whatever vision they have left. All you need is a creative mind to develop ways to make existing games tactile. At the first event, we pulled out Braille “Uno” cards, but we were surprised to discover that the Deaf-Blind and Low-Vision residents did not know Braille. Now the question is: How can we make accessible games for people who are Deaf-Blind and/or with Low Vision without using Braille? We came prepared with other tactile games that we had created: Tactile Connect 4 and Tactile Checkers. The residents really enjoyed playing the tactile games. After that first event, we began to brainstorm and came up with four other tactile games: Jenga, Mancala, Large Print Yahtzee and Tactile Bingo (The Tactile Bingo game was created by four Western Oregon University students as a class project.) All six of the tactile games created were donated to Chestnut Lane.
We feel that it is important to share what we know about creating Tactile Games with others. We will discuss how each tactile game was created with the proper materials to meet many tactile/ visual needs. These games are inexpensive and simple. Some projects do take longer than others depending on the amount of extra materials to be added. But the end result is well worth it when you see someone having a good time. You will need to buy some of the games and then add on extra materials. Other games such as Tactile Bingo can be made from materials around the home. It’s not a crime to modify these games because you are not selling them or otherwise using copyrighted materials. I call it, “making adjustments to meet other people’s accommodation needs.”
The following is an explanation of 6 exciting ways to have fun with Tactile Games. Let the fun begin.
1. Tactile Checker Board
The Checker board is a little complicated. Stephanie found a new checker game called, “King Me” (See Figure 1). Instead of stacking, the pieces, a crown pops up out from a hidden compartment when the piece is twisted, that makes it a KING (See Figure 3). Stephanie used the black felt self-stick circles to identify the black pieces from the red pieces (See Figure 2). She also used a tan felt, flat self-stick blanket, to cut pieces to cover the red squares (See Figure 1, 2 and 3). Not only that, she used the fuzzy pipe cleaners for the edges so that the pieces would not fall out (See Figure 2 and 3).
“Wow, I haven’t been able to play checkers in a long time, now I can feel it without having to use my eyes” —Deaf-Blind resident from Chestnut Lane
2. Tactile Connect 4
The Tactile Connect 4 is an easy one to add on materials. All you need is felt self-stick circles that you can get from the hardware store. You will put these on the checker pieces. Pick one color then put the felt self-stick circles on both...
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