fastfinge ([personal profile] fastfinge) wrote in [community profile] accessibility_win2014-04-03 03:23 pm

Accessible Playing Cards

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this. But I think it does qualify as an accessibility win, and could be helpful to anyone who, like me, often doesn't have a deck of accessible playing cards to hand when I want them, to join in with the card games with relatives and friends that sometimes spontaneously break out. I have no financial or other involvement with this, I just wanted to share. If it's inappropriate, feel free to delete.

Amazon Canada sells Braille playing cards manufactured by U.S Playing Card for $9.95CAD. I've found them at specialty stores for the blind for as high as $25CAD. So I wasn't sure what they'd be like, but they just arrived yesterday and I'm completely satisfied! These are the real thing, with American braille in the corners, rather than the ones with braille going awkwardly down the side. They're also the thick, easy to handle paper cards, rather than that awful slippy plastic stuff. They come in a sturdy cardboard box, not a plastic box that will crack with the slightest knock, and never closes properly. Apparently they also have jumbo print, but I have no vision at all, so I have no idea about the contrast or size of the printing for low vision players. If you have never scene Braille playing cards before, you will notice that the braille does cause slight indentations on the backs of the cards. However, a blind player who is dealing and shuffling won't be able to read the card from the back anymore than you can, as the indentations are largely too faint to be read, and are upside down and backwards. They're also out of stock right now, because I was so excited to find these that I bought quite a few decks. The only major flaw is that the braille symbol on both jokers is exactly the same, so they can't be used to play games like Spades, Pitch, or some variations of Euchre that require you to differentiate the big and little jokers, without first agreeing on some house rules, or marking the cards. Also, they come from the US, so I don't qualify for free shipping via Amazon Prime. But if you're blind and someday looking to replace your warn out old paper cards, seriously check out Amazon. Maybe it would occur to other people to check Amazon for accessibility products, but I had never thought of it before, and was quite surprised.

If you've never played cards at the table with a blind person before, or are blind and only ever play cards online, here are some helpful tips. I'm honestly kind of surprised that a quick Google didn't turn up an article about this written by someone else, but apparently not!

  1. If possible, Everyone should always call out every card they lay out. For example, "I'm playing a 2 of hearts on the twos, a five of clubs on the fives, opening up eights with eights of spades, diamonds, and hearts, and discarding a king of diamonds." This includes the blind player as well, as sometimes we can get confused about the locations of various piles on the table, and not put a card where we thought we were putting it. Calling out our plays helps keep the field equal, and can help other players catch those little mistakes. Those who are extremely shy or have difficulty speaking should designate another player to call out the cards they play, as if every player at the table starts calling out what they're playing in an effort to be helpful, it can get really confusing, really fast.

  2. In games where getting rid of every card in your hand is the objective, players with 1 card should always call out "last card!" or knock on the table, when they finish playing, even in games where the rules do not require this. Sighted players can often estimate the number of cards other players are holding, while blind players cannot. This seems to equalize things.

  3. In games that can have a vast number of cards on the table, like Hand and Foot or Frustration, blind players can and should ask what's on the table before they start to play. In cases where a blind player didn't ask, or forgot what was down, a card laid is a card played. For example, if I thought I knew everything on the table and didn't ask before playing, then went ahead and discarded a queen I could have played elsewhere because I didn't know, I don't get to take it back. If I called out that I was playing a wild card on the sevens, and put it on the fives by mistake, that doesn't count and I get to move it.

  4. Some blind players have difficulty shuffling, or dealing cards into neat orderly piles. It can be helpful to have someone else deal for us, in order to speed up the game. Personally, I can deal for games with up to 4 or so players, but I find dealing out more than about 5 hands slow and difficult, as some of the players I'm dealing to are quite far away and the cards don't go where I want them to, resulting in people's hands getting mixed together.

  5. The best kinds of games to play, I find, are trick taking games, draw and discard games, and hand comparison games. Personally, I find that Patience games, commerce games, and fishing games are often nearly impossible for me because of the sheer number of cards on the table. If I ask someone to tell me what's on the table, the list can get so long that I forget what was at the start of the list by the time they get to the end! If anyone has any tips for these games, I'd be interested in hearing them.

If you're looking for an accessible and easy to navigate website of card game rules, I highly recommend Pagat. They have almost every card game you can think of, indexed in multiple ways, so you can always find a new game to try.

Edit: I messed up the formatting. Fixed, I think.

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