Scrabble, chess, Connect 4… in a version accessible to the blind

With its traveling toy library, the Daslca association travels throughout Marseille to organize board game sessions. Their peculiarity? They are suitable for blind people, who thus have the opportunity to play with everyone!

It’s a collection that’s enough to make Santa Claus green. The Marseille association Daslca – for the development of awareness-raising workshops and adapted cultural leisure – has almost 500 board games and more than 100 puzzles. Inferring the multiple copies, this still represents a hundred different references. Games for children and/or adults and, above all, accessible to the blind. “I realized, when I was still small, that there were few of them on the market. Once an adult, I decided to found an association just to create one”, explains Amann, himself visually impaired, president of this structure which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2023.

In the adapted version of Scrabble, the “letter” counters are in contrast (clear writing on a black background) and in Braille © AP

Prices from simple to triple

In the Dascla playroom, some of the games purchased were already suitable for the blind. Beetle for example. What distinguishes it from the classic version? The grid of the tray is raised so that the letters do not move once placed. The special boxes – doubled or tripled word or letter – have an embossed symbol to distinguish them from the others. The letters of the pawns are written in block letters and in Braille. “The big problem with adapted games is that they are very expensive. Count 110 euros for this Scarabeo against thirty normally”, says Marie-Claire, vice president of the association.

This high price is a real obstacle for many families. For this reason, when possible, Daslca volunteers transform the games themselves. Quite easy for the famous Connect 4: starting from the original, just modify the pawns of one of the two colors to differentiate them from the other. Putting a sticker on them, drilling them… the team has no shortage of imagination.

Manual and enterprising volunteers

For some games, however, the transformation is simply not possible. They must therefore be recreated from scratch. Example with the little horses: it is necessary to foresee four shapes of pawns, a perforated board to move the pawns at each turn, and a dice in Braille. Another scenario with the game of dominoes: the board must be magnetized, the larger dominoes, with figures in printed characters, both in relief and in Braille. “We envision the changes so that the game remains enjoyable for both the blind and the able-bodied. However, we respect their essence, in particular by keeping the same colors as the classic version.” Amann points out.

The volunteers then make the games, which require time and dexterity. “I think publishers should work on the accessibility of their games with associations like ours”, stings Marie-Claire. Meanwhile, the little hands are busy filling and expanding Daslca’s playroom.

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While some games are purchased as adapted directly for the blind (such as Snakes and Ladders) others are created by Daslca volunteers (here the pencil game) © AP

Play together, without differences

Every week, the association organizes game sessions in Marseille and its surroundings, open to all. Almost every Wednesday, the appointment is at the Méridien municipal entertainment center in the 5th arrondissement (bonuses). The only condition to participate: to be a member. Registration, free for children, is 20 euros per adult. “You have to register in advance. This allows us to know the age of the participants and to adjust the games accordingly. says the vice president. Because it is impossible to move the entire playroom every time. The games are also kept between the homes of Amann, Marie-Claire and some members of their families. “We start preparing the sessions a week in advance because they are everywhere! », jokes the president not without seriousness.

The association is also regularly called upon by schools, nursery schools, but also retirement homes, associations, training centres, etc. For game afternoons and/or awareness of disability through play: course with a white cane, introduction to braille, blindfold games: a good way for able-bodied people to become aware of the reality of meaningless living.

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In addition to the game sessions, Amann and Marie-Claire, president and vice president of Daslca, want to organize tournaments © AP

need weapons

Next challenge for the Dascla team: organizing tournaments. “We would reach even more people, both disabled and able-bodied,” rejoices Amann. Especially since, after the confinements linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of members has dropped. Marie-Claire hopes to get started with Scrabble, one of her favorite games. “We have enough copies for this and it’s easy to set up. We need weapons, though. cast as a call. The association is actively looking for new volunteers. Their missions can be multiple: participate in future workshops, events and tournaments, help create and adapt games, take care of administrative tasks, etc.

Among the other needs of the structure: donations, without too many surprises. They allow it to operate, in addition to the public subsidies it receives – from the City of Marseille and the Department of Bouches-du-Rhône – and to finance its projects. Last wait: the purchase of a car. “We could thus move our toy library throughout the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region”, Marie-Claire slips. The association counts on everyone’s generosity to make it happen. ♦

Bonuses

  • Upcoming game sessions – Wednesday 23 November from 2pm to 4.30pm at the Méridien municipal entertainment center (17 boulevard Jeanne d’Arc, 13005 Marseille). Saturday 10 December from 2pm to 4.30pm at the city of associations (93 La Canebière, 13001 Marseille). You can find all the dates on the Daslca association website, by clicking here. To organize a session in your facility, just contact the association.
  • Publishers come into play – Asmodee – to whom we owe the famous Catan, Les Aventuriers du Rail, Jungle Speed, Time’s Up! – will launch an “Access +” range at the end of the year. Three of his games, Dooble, Cortex and Timeline, will thus be available in a version adapted to people with disabilities, especially those with cognitive impairment. The cards will be bigger and thicker, easier to handle and the rules adapted. To discover here.

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