Recently, I was practicing a new language by playing a card game with my friends and their family. When I was telling a different friend about this, they looked at me very confused and asked how people with visual impairments play cards, and how to make a deck of cards accessible for low vision. Of course, there are several different ways to make playing cards easier to read, so here are my tips for playing cards with visual impairment, inclusive of low vision and blindness.
If possible, use high contrast cards or cards with clear images
It’s difficult for anyone to read faded cards, but for some people with low vision, faded cards can appear to be practically invisible and hard to read. If possible, use cards with bright colors or clear images that are easy to distinguish from each other. Dark text/colors on a light background or vice versa are great for people with low vision and easy to read compared to light-colored text on a light background.
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- Using PicsArt To Simulate Vision Impairment
Add text labels
One of my friends with low vision is colorblind and can only see in shades of gray. They use a deck of cards that have large print text labels that identify the color of the card at the bottom so they know which color is which. A different friend has large text labels for king, queen, and jack cards so that they are easier to distinguish.
Play in teams
If I’m at a party and an accessible deck of cards is not available, my friends will often have us play in teams so that I can have a sighted friend describe the cards to me. Sometimes, all players play in teams, while other times I am the only one who has another person helping me. This doesn’t bother others though, and my friends are happy to volunteer to be my eyes for a game.
Have a magnification aid
I frequently use magnification aids to make things easier to see, and playing cards are no exception. Typically, I take a picture of my hand of cards and then zoom in to see what is there in my first hand. When I draw new cards, I magnify them with my phone, making sure that no one else can see them. It also isn’t uncommon to see friends using magnifying glasses or video magnifiers to make cards easier to see.
Use an image recognition app
I love using image recognition apps like Microsoft Seeing AI or Google Assistant to identify items around me. Typically, I use the Google Assistant the most frequently because Seeing AI is not available on Android, but one of my friends prefers using Seeing AI over other image recognition apps because it is more accurate. A different friend also uses Seeing AI’s color reader to confirm the color of a card, which I thought was awesome.
Add texture to cards
Is that a six of diamonds or a seven of hearts? Adding tactile labels to cards in Braille or just by outlining shapes can be extremely helpful for people who can’t tell which card is which. Many people prefer to have a Braille or tactile number with a letter next to it to confirm the card name- so the six of diamonds would read as 6 D and the seven of hearts as 7 H.
Buy a large print/Braille card deck
Braille and large print card decks are available online for many popular games and aren’t too expensive. Some cards are larger than traditional cards, though many are a similar size to normal regulation cards. Many cards still have images printed on them so that people of all sight levels can join in on the fun.
While I don’t frequently play cards, it’s always a fun activity with friends and was great practice for me learning a new language as I got to learn how to count to 10 and identify colors and shapes, along with other words. With these tips, a deck of cards can easily be made accessible for someone with visual impairment and everyone can participate in a card game without feeling left out.