Recently I had the opportunity to attend a camp and share some games with individuals who have vision and hearing loss. These were games I have come across in my travels and numerous visits to Garage Sales, Flea Markets and Thrift Stores.
Years ago I was asked what type of games I would recommend for someone who was confined to their home or who had limited mobility. The person asking was the family member of a consumer with physical disabilities who was young and unable to access the community due to limited public transportation options and roads that were not accessible for wheelchair users. I suggested some of the Hi-Q Games that are often found in high end toy stores or other specialty places under the category of “brain teasers”. These games were made by The Kohner Toy Company back in the 1950s.
The first game they came up with in this product line was for babies called Busy Box and was used to keep them occupied in their cribs. The original Hi-Q Solitaire game was their first foray into this genre to keep the minds of children and adults active and challenged. The company referred to these games as “brainbuster” games. These products were highly sought after and can still be found on-line or in specialty stores. Other games produced by this company were Dominooos (later produced by Gabriel and Pressman Toys as Catch 21 and Peter Plan Playthings as Eureka). The objective of the Solitaire game was to place 32 pegs on a grid with 34 holes. The player is required to jump over pegs whichever way possible until there is only one peg remaining on the board to be called “genius”. If only 5 pegs are left that is still good.
Other games by Kohner have been Kwazy Quilts, Pythagoras, Gridlock and Hexed. These games use shapes to create patterns. What is neat is that there is no need to see since the shapes are so distinct and the final pattern clear that the player can rely on their sense of touch and vision becomes irrelevant. A friend of mine told me that she used to play the Hi-Q Solitaire Game as a child at the school for the blind in Pittsburgh. These games help to create visual and tactile memories of patterns and shapes for individuals who are blind which can really come in handy when learning the grid or layout of streets or routes when traveling independently.
For individuals who would like to battle with another player these games can be played competitively. Other companies that have created similar games are: Gabriel, Pressman, Ideal and Peter Pan Playthings.
Some of the other games I have shared were games I grew up playing like: Perfection and Othello. The former game can be purchased right off the shelf and used with the blind, while the latter is available as a game specifically for the blind with magnetic chips. If you purchase Othello off the shelf it can easily be modified for use by the blind.
As an adult I have trained alongside athletes who have disabilities and have done volunteer work with disabled veterans and these games have come in handy- especially when my friends are stuck at home or just interested in mind stimulating activities.