Not all assistive technology is high-tech. In fact, the objectives of assistive technology are accessibility and inclusion, to enable individuals with disabilities to perform tasks like everybody else. Today, we will focus on developments that allow for children to play alongside their able-bodied peers.
Blind children love to play as much as their sighted peers. Earlier this year, the Danish toy company LEGO announced that their beloved bricks would become a teaching tool to help blind children learn braille. Then, not long thereafter, LEGO purchased a private venture, LEGO for the Blind. The idea behind this initiative was to create instructions that make the graphic instructions that accompany each set accessible to blind children, either ready for braille print-out or accessible via a screen reader.
Now, another classic game joins the stable. The makers of UNO have partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to produce cards with braille dots. UNO Braille has braille on the corner of every card to designate its number and color, or action. Even the packaging and instructions feature braille dots over the words and graphics.
What about dominoes and dice? One company, Maxi Aids, has made these games inclusive of blind and visually impaired players with a simple adaptation: The dots are raised rather than sunken.
At our Assistive Technology Center lending library, a free service to New Jersey residents, toys are a popular item. Examples include adaptations of old friends such as Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster. A variety of button switches activate these toys. The overall theme is not only the importance of play and learning, but the importance of inclusive play and learning.