Ludo, Snakes & Ladders among popular board games made accessible for blind kids at Mumbai school
Ludo and Snakes and Ladders are board games that many children love to play. Thanks to heritage architect and access consultant Siddhant Shah, these games can now be played by children who are blind and low vision as well.
Games period has now become cause for much excitement at the Kamla Mehta Blind School in Dadar, Mumbai. Everyday you find students gathered around a table playing Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, X&O to name a few.
These popular board games that so many children love have been made accessible to children who are blind and low vision thanks to Siddhant Shah, the heritage consultant and founder of Access for ALL. Siddhant has made many well-known heritage sites and museums in India accessible to people with disabilities.
Siddhant says he was inspired to think of making board games accessible a few years ago while working on a tactile Braille project for a prominent art gallery. He then started looking closely into the means of recreation for children at blind schools in India.
I was looking at ways and means of recreation at blind schools in India and when I was visiting the Blind Relief Association in Ahmedabad, I saw children playing with a ball that made a sound. When the Lions Club, Juhu said it was looking at recreational means for blind girls, we pitched the idea of accessible board games to the donor and he was quite keen. -Siddhant Shah, Founder, Access for ALL
These games have been introduced on a pilot basis at the Kamla Mehta Blind School, one of India's oldest blind schools for girls. Siddhant and his team worked with the teachers to figure out how the kids occupy themselves and realised that only a few kids could play board games as they faced issues with the size of the board, fonts, colours, etc. Together with his team, he created a few prototypes and after a few months arrived at something they could all enjoy. "We worked on the font size, used textures, created physical divisions and indications, etc., so they were accessible".
The outcome, says Alka Mehta, a committee chairperson at Lions Club Juhu, is quite magical.
"It was so terrible for the children to be sitting around in school all day long. We wanted them to experience the joys of games and play like other kids and we loved Siddhant's idea of board games they could touch and feel. This is the first time a school in Mumbai is doing this and we are so happy with what he has created. Now, everyone is excited about the games period".
Mehta hopes that more blind schools in India will introduce these games. "If we get more donors, we would be happy to take this across to more schools".
School principal Varsha Jadhav says she is looking at extending the games period. "This way the girls get more time to play and the best part is that the size of the board games is large so many girls are able to play together. This has totally transformed the mood during games period".
Siddhant says he has received enquiries from blind schools in other cities like Ahmedabad and Jaipur. "If we find donors, we could take it to more children". The games, he says, are not just fun but also help in building fine and gross motor skills.