Blind dominoes playing boards

Project  / Project number: BK2018/57  /  Status:


The challenge

A ten year old boy who has been totally blind since birth had recently become interested in playing dominoes. The school had acquired two special sets of tactile dominoes, double six and double nine, where the pips were substantially raised so that blind people could gauge the number of pips by touch only.

In addition to the normal dominoes game, he also wanted to play a variant called Concentration. This game is similar to the game of pairs that children play with picture cards where they try to remember the position of the cards in order to find matching pairs.

In the dominoes Concentration game, the dominoes are placed face down and turned over by each player, as in the pairs game, but this time the “pair” is any pair of dominoes where the total number of pips adds up to 12, e.g. the double six and the double blank are a pair. At the end of the go, the dominoes are again turned face down and the next player must remember both the position and the value. When a pair is turned up, that player removes those two dominoes from the board. The winner at the end of the game is the player who has collected most pairs. This game is much more difficult than the picture cards game. Concentration with the double nine set where the pips have to total 18 is fiendish.

The problem was that in both games, the boy had to feel the dominoes to get the values. In doing so, he invariably changed their position, making both the standard game and Concentration impossible.

To solve the problem for the standard game, a section of self-adhesive magnetic strip was attached to the underside of each domino. A standard magnetic white board was then used as the playing surface. The dominoes stuck to the white board and did not move when the boy felt them, but where easily removed at the end of the game. A “scrabble” type stand was made so that he could store his “hand” without other sighted players being able to see.

For the Concentration game, two playing boards with grids of cells were made to hold the dominoes loosely in a fixed position. The dominoes could be turned over, felt and turned back over without losing their position. For the double six set, the board had 7 x 4 (28) cells and for the double nine 9 x 6 (54) cells.


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