Low Vision Need Not Stop You from Playing Your Favorite Games

The king of diamonds, ace of spades, ten of clubs and nine of hearts from a pack of large print playing cards

With a few extra steps and adaptations, you can keep doing most of the things you love as your vision changes. Games are a great example. The Council’s Brent Perzentka, a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist, has a few tips that can help you continue or resume playing the games you have always enjoyed.

Board Games
For those with low vision, good lighting is the first step. You can use a lamp with an adjustable arm to control the direction of the light as needed. If the game involves cards and a board, you can often make your own adaptations. Print out or write notations in larger print, then stick them to the board or cards. Use contrasting colors for the game boards or game pieces to make them easier to see. Chess boards and pieces don’t have to be black and white. Just make sure to use colors that reduce glare. White, red or yellow pieces usually stand out better on a darker colored board. Since chess pieces already are tactile, try to find larger pieces to take advantage of that. Checkers works well too. Tactile checkers are available to help distinguish the colors, along with boards that have ridges to feel for spaces.

Card Games
Again, good lighting is key. Large cards that are easier to read are available. Play seated around a table that keeps the draw and discard piles within reach. Card trays can make the piles easier to find and keep the cards in a central spot. A solid-colored table covering can also help. If the cards have white backgrounds, a darker tablecloth provides better contrast. Also, a tablecloth keeps the cards from sliding around. Braille cards are a good option, since you only need to learn a few braille letters and numbers to use them. During a game, have everyone in the group call out their card when played. For dealing, lay out piles in front of you, one for each player, and then disperse the piles to each player once the stacks are dealt.

Trivia Games
Trivia games can be fun when played with multiple people, but you can also play them on your own using your smart phone or home assistant device. The phone or device can read the questions and you just speak the answers. There are trivia game apps that are free and games that you can purchase through an in-app subscription. Some apps will even let you play against a live opponent online.

Outdoor Games
Playing backyard games is a fun way to enjoy sunny days, socialize and get into a bit of friendly competition. There are ways to adapt outdoor games and equipment so that vision loss doesn’t get in the way of the fun. Sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat can help block glare and protect your eyes. You may need to adapt the games to make things larger and more brightly colored so that you can see them better. For instance, if you’re playing bocce ball or lawn bowling, try using a baseball or softball as the target instead of the standard small white ball that comes with the game. You can find devices that beep, or you can use a cellphone with an audio beep to help indicate where you should aim.

Puzzle Books
There are plenty of puzzle books in large print versions, and some are available in braille. Keep in mind that print and grid sizes may be different from book to book. For example, some books are labeled “extra-large” or “jumbo.” Choose the size and contrast that works best for you, but choose carefully and check font sizes. Some books labeled “jumbo” may still use a small font. You can also print your own large print puzzles from the internet. Many are available as PDFs that you can open with Adobe Acrobat Reader, and you can increase the size before you print.

Jigsaw Puzzles
Choose a puzzle with good contrast and bold colors, and fewer small details. Choosing a sharp, clear design can make it easier to see the whole picture as well as the patterns and colors on each piece. Keep in mind the size of the puzzle pieces themselves. Larger ones make it easier to see and feel the pieces themselves, so look for “large pieces” on the box when purchasing. It also helps to use a tablecloth or background with a contrasting color from the puzzle. For a lighter colored puzzle, dark background makes it easier to see the pieces. Magnification devices, either wearable or on a stand, can also be helpful to identify the pieces.

Many of these games and tools for adapting them can be found on the shelves and website of our Sharper Vision Store! You can check them out at Store.WCBlind.org/store/games.

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