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Accessible Kids’ Computer Games: Serious Fun

Each time I hear those commercials on TV of kids having fun with learning games, I ask myself how much of this is or can be available to blind and sight-impaired children. The truth is that, as modern technology develops, we find that more and more blind children are struggling to keep up when it comes to being able to enjoy the excitement and fun. But with more and more toy manufacturers coming out with nifty ways for kids to learn to read, write, do maths and spell, blind and sight-impaired kids need to be given ways to enjoy all of this as well.

It’s true that some major strides have been made in making mainstream games – whether educational or otherwise – more available and accessible to blind and sight-impaired kids but there is a great deal more that needs to be done. Blind and sight-impaired kids need to be able to access more mainstream technology. In short, they need to have equal access to whatever game or learning tool is out there for the mainstream kid.

Some strides have been made in the area of ball games; a beeping baseball or hockey puck, a beeping ball for lawn tennis, and look how Goalball has been developed for blind people. So all is not lost.

So progress continues to be made.

For example Spoonbill Software, run by “happily retired computer programmer” Ian Humphreys in Albany, Western Australia, now offers some 18 free computer games for sighted, vision-impaired and blind players. The Spoonbill’s newest accessible game, BG Codebreaker, substitutes all the letters of the alphabet with numbers and then invites you to decode words. You can browse all 18 game descriptions online.

Other useful sites include, a portal for games based entirely on sound;

Accessible chess puzzles, hosted by Mario Lang;

And One Switch, a gaming resource for people with physical and learning disabilities.

So can we allow ourselves to dream and hope that the blind children of tomorrow will have a better opportunity to move a bit closer to the mainstream world of games and toys? That they will have more to choose from and that they will be able to enjoy them that much more? Will they have a greater chance to participate in mainstream fun or will they continue to lag behind and need substitute games and toys?

I am sure that as time goes on, more and more toys and games manufacturers will develop products that are more accessible. Products that will benefit all kids. This may even be closer to becoming a reality than many would think, though we can lend a hand by lobbying these companies to move in the right direction.

NOTE: Donna Jodhan is an accessibility consultant who is
involved in an ongoing legal battle with the Canadian
government over accessibility of its websites (see E-Access Bulletin, September issue).


  1. Ian Hamilton | October 31st, 2011 | 11:08 pm

    Lower levels of provision are (unfortunately) to be expected as blind children is one of the smallest disabled demographics, due to blindness (and to a lesser extent visual impairment) being age related, occurring through disease, injury or deterioration. There are, for example, only 50 children born bind in the UK every year. On top of that it is far more complex to develop blind friendly games than any other group, even motor.. And even more difficult when you take into account that children do not use screen readers.

    What that means is of course that it’s a tiny group, woefully underprovided for, but because of that huge value for any content that does happen to be made.

    Unlike other types of disability and unlike blind web provision it’s not something that can be done by following best practice, really what’s needed is enough awareness for developers to be able to spot when a mechanic is particularly suited to blind play. To my mind at least, due to the very small audience numbers involved, piggybacking onto other ideas that are suitable for adaptation gives a much better chance of getting results than hoping for things to be made bespoke. It’s that awareness that’s the trick though.

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