Visual Impairments, Total Blindness and Board Games

Visual Impairment and Board Games

The Issue of Visual Impairments and Total Blindness in Board Games

We look at the accessibility of a lot of games here on Meeple Like us, and one of the things we look at is visual impairment and total blindness. Each game that we review gets an alphabetic grade for its suitability for people with visual impairments, although the teardowns that we publish for each game are critical in getting a full appreciation of why we recommend, or not, a particular board game for blind gamers. If you’re looking for recommendations for games you can play if you are blind or visually impaired though you’ve come to the right place! If not, you should still hang around because we talk a lot about all kinds of accessibility and you might find some of our posts interesting.

On Meeple Like Us we look at the issue of visual impairment from two perspectives. One is total blindness and this is the one that is most difficult with regards to board game recommendations. Board games that work for people with visual impairments might not work for people with total blindness. For those with visual impairments this is a hobby that can only be recommended in specific cases and often when dealing with only relatively minor visual impairments. We work on the assumption that game state can be assessed through the use of an appropriate assistive aid such as a magnifying device. We do not work on the assumption that visually impaired players are literate with braille, although there are sites that can assist if that is the case.

Many board games require a large amount of ‘table knowledge’ from each player—it’s important that players know what parts of the board game are relevant to them, which parts are relevant to other players, and what that relevance means for their own future actions and activities. Other board games stress visual and binocularity acuity, such as those where dexterity or aiming must come into play. Other board games do poorly in this category due to component design such as small or heavily ornamented fonts, busy graphical layouts, and a lack of contrast in game boards and game components. All of these can be difficult for players with visual impairments to parse, and often impossible for those with total blindness even when considering support from the table. Sometimes games incorporate hidden components, hidden hands of card, or otherwise require players to obscure their own personal game state without being able to reveal it to others. This has a considerable impact on how easily a player with visual impairments can request accessibility support through the course of a game. Time constraints too impact on playability in this category, as the investigation of game components with an assistive aid adds a time burden onto every interaction.

Board Games – Recommendations for Visual Impairments

The following games are recommended at a B or higher grade for people with visual impairments, although those with total blindness will want to check the linked teardown for full details. Individual grades are not necessarily fully representative of the complexities associated with total blindness and visual impairment. For more specific and complex circumstances, please check out our recommender.