Guest blog: Preparing your home for a blind relative

From time to time, I get requests from Blindfold Games fans to publish their articles.  Jackie Waters sent the following to me:

The term “nesting” is in reference mostly to pregnant women who have an instinct to prepare their home for the arrival of their little bundle, but I recently experienced the feeling when my husband’s sister, who is visually impaired, came to live with us.

Certainly, I wanted our home to be as comfortable and welcoming for her as possible, but more than anything, I wanted it to be safe. With a little research and some help from kind neighbors, my husband and I were able to make some low-cost modifications so that she could truly enjoy her new home.

Below are some suggestions on home repairs, for anyone who’ll be opening their home to a person with a disability. These are also great changes to make now if you have future plans for your home–for example, maybe you’d like to pass it on to a family member with a disability.

Bathroom

Having an accessible bathroom is one of the most essential elements to have in your home. In the shower and next to the toilet, install grab bars for reinforcement and extra support. It’s also a good idea to keep toiletries, towels, extra toilet paper, etc., in the same place. We set up a special shelf and shower caddy of toiletries for my sister-in-law to use. I also purchased slip-resistant bath mats that had a greater color contrast with the bathroom tile than our previous mats did.

If your loved one is wheelchair-bound, the doorway (and all doorways for that matter) should be at least 32 inches to allow for an unobstructed route for wheelchairs. The bathroom should accommodate the 5-foot turning radius for wheelchairs, and the layout should be as open as possible. A sloped tile floor leading to a showerhead and drain is ideal to provide easy-access.

An area that can easily be overlooked is the sink. Remove anything that impedes a wheelchair from rolling under it, and be sure to have a clearance of 27 inches, but be mindful to keep the height of the top of the sink between 32 and 34 inches. Little changes like moving the position of the faucets to the side of the sink, lowering the mirror, or mounting a motion-detecting faucet instead of having handles make a big difference.

Entryway

The exterior to your home needs to be just as accessible as the interior. Clear the path leading to your main entrance to prevent tripping and injuries. Repair any loose railings or paving stones. Adding a ramp instead of having stairs is essential for making your home available to anyone.

Easy Adjustments

Think of the simple comforts that can make or break your day on a regular basis. For example, what if you were freezing cold and couldn’t adjust the thermostat? To solve that problem for his sister, my husband installed a thermostat designed for people with visual impairments. We also installed motion sensitive lights and switched to easier-to-grasp door and cabinet handles.

Financial Assistance

There are multiple programs available to aid people with disabilities and their families to finance renovations on their homes. Here are a few resources that are more than willing to help:

  • Need Help Paying Bills: Loan or grant program for low to middle income families for home improvements
  • disability.gov: Offers several resources for aid in home improvements and support services

Blindfold Jeopardy

When I created the first survey asking people what game to build next, Jeopardy was one of the most demanded games.

icon-1024

Like other games, Jeopardy is protected with a copyright, so I had to modify the game rules and questions to not infringe on their intellectual property.  Based on suggestions from the testers, they chose “Trivia Match” as the Blindfold game name.

In Trivia Match, the game board is laid out as 6 columns of categories, with each column containing 5 clues.  You first pick the clue you want based on the category and amount of money, and then the select your answer.  If your answer is correct, you win the money.  If your answer is wrong, you lose that money.

In the TV game Jeopardy, the game board has clues, and you must speak your answer as a question.  Trying to validate what someone types for their answer is a very complex programming task; instead, in Trivia Match, you must select the correct answer out of 10 possible answers.  All possible answers appear relevant to the question, so guessing doesn’t help much.

There are several companies that sell trivia questions and answers, but very few that sell trivia questions with both right and wrong answers.  We needed a way to come up with wrong answers.

To solve this, we found a company that divided their trivia into categories.  To come up with the 10 possible answers, we would randomly select the correct answers from 9 other questions in the same category, and the include those answers with the correct answer from the actual question.

For example, if the clue is “What you are supposed to hold when you keep your big mouth shut”, the category is “body parts”.  By analyzing all of the  questions in the body parts category, we generated answers such as: chest, head, nose, liver, calf, tongue, belly, and ear.

We first tested the game with about 7 answers for each question, but found at least 10 answers are needed to make the game sufficiently challenging.

You can download Blindfold Trivia Match here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-trivia-match/id1162281244?mt=8

 

 

Blindfold Racer Out-takes

People who follow this blog may have heard these before, but I just listened again and couldn’t stop laughing.

Jim Holiday does a podcast called Typical Confusion, and he recently tried Blindfold Racer.  While his driving wasn’t very good, he really enjoyed my daughter’s voice acting from 4 years ago.  He said she has lots of fans.

Jim asked me for the out-takes to include in his latest podcast.  He starts talking about Blindfold Racer at 17 minutes and 8 seconds, and the out-takes begin at 18 minutes and 48 seconds.

Here’s the link to his podcast on Audioboom:

https://audioboom.com/posts/5597087-typical-confusion-pod-cast-22?t=0

 

 

Blindfold Hopper workout

I was corresponding with a game fan last week, and she was telling me how she plays Blindfold Hopper, but sometimes has trouble:

“If I move my arm too far away from my body, there’s a chance my shoulder could pop out of place. Not only is that horribly painful, but I’d rather not be put in the position of telling emergency room staff that I dislocated my shoulder playing a game on my phone.”

person in spinning chair

I told her that some people play by sitting in a rotating chair, and using their feet, they swing their body back and forth.  She replied: “Oh my goodness. Playing in a rotating chair would be so much fun. I’ll definitely do that.

Keeping your feet on the ground and swinging your body left and right is not only a fun way to play, it’s a good workout of your core muscles.  The machine used in pilates called a pilates reformer can be used to exercise your abdominal muscles in a similar fashion.

Blindfold Hopper – the game she was referring to – is a similar to the old video game Frogger.

In Hopper, you are a frog sitting on a lily pad, and you need to jump to the next lily pad. Using head phones or ear buds, you hear the lily pads move from one side of your head to the other. Each lily pad is represented by a different musical loop. When the lily pad is directly in front of you, tap the phone to jump to the next lily pad.

You can move your lily pad left and right by swinging your arm or rotating your body, and you can jump to a lily pad in front of you, or behind you. Each time you jump, the next lily pad comes a little bit faster. And if you stay on your lily pad too long, an alligator will eat you.

 

To download Blindfold Hopper: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-hopper/id977279164?mt=8

 

 

Blindfold Skip-Bo

Skip-Bo was originally created by Minnie Hazel “Skip” Bowman in 1967, and was commericialized by Mattel.  There are two other names for this game:  Spite and Malice, and Cat and Mouse.  We published the Blindfold version as Blindfold Cat and Mouse Solitaire.

Skip-Bo piles and cards

Trying to get a good name for this game wasn’t easy.  Like all games that are copyrighted by a large gaming company, I cannot use the copyrighted name, and I must make sufficient game changes to not violate any intellectual property associated with the commercial game.

I first published the game as Blindfold Spite and Malice, based on the original name, and fewer than 100 people downloaded the game.  Everyone was expecting a game based on revenge.  I guess revenge games aren’t that popular.

Then I changed it to Blindfold Cat and Mouse, and fewer than 50 more people downloaded the game.  Now everyone was expecting a chasing game.

One of the testers recommended I include the concepts of a card game, and of solitaire, into the name, so I tested the name “Blindfold Cat and Mouse Solitaire”.  That did the trick, and the game took off.

The general idea of the game is that each player uses skill and strategy to create stacks of sequentially numbered, ascending cards (2,3,4…) until they have no more left to play. Once everyone is dealt their own personal stockpile of cards, play begins by drawing from a central pile and building up to four “build” piles. There are a bunch of wild-cards that can break up static situations and can be played as any number.

The first player to deplete all of his or her stockpile cards is the winner.  Just like UNO, which is known as Blindfold Wildcard, Blindfold Cat and Mouse Solitaire’ is an easy game to learn and play.  You can play against one, two or three computer opponents, and you adjust your opponent’s skill to make the game more challenging.

Like all Blindfold card games, moving and playing cards is done with swipe and tap gestures.  For example, to move within your hand, swipe left and right; each time the card read to you.  To move between piles of cards, swipe left and right with two fingers.  To select a card to play, tap twice.  To move that card to another piles, swipe left or right with two fingers to get to the piles you want,  then tap twice again.

To download this game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-spite/id1155519894?&mt=8

 

 

 

6 Hours playing Blindfold Breakout

About a year ago, I just received the following tweet: “I have not found a game that kept me entertained for 6 hours straight before, until I found Blindfold Breakout”.  I guess he likes the game.

breakout

We built Breakout at the suggestion of several blind gamers that liked Blindfold Pong, but wanted something more challenging. If you read my prior posts about using a physics engine, once we got over the learning curve of using the engine, there were lots of games that we could easily build.

I was about to re-create Pong with the physics engine, but decided that it’s not really worth the effort.  Pong, by itself, is pretty good, but there’s not much reason to improve it since the game is so simple.  Instead, I started looking at all of the variants of Pong, and decided Breakout would be a fun but challenging game.

Breakout is Pong with bricks that you hit with the ball that bounces back and forth.  As long as you can keep the ball in play by moving your paddle – controlled by moving the phone – left and right to you’ll smash more and more brick.  After you’ve smashed all the bricks, you move onto the next harder level, usually with more bricks.  Many of the blind gamers who test my games made suggestions on varieties of the game, prizes to win, and how to make the levels harder. I implemented all of their ideas, and released the game last year.

The next step with the game is to improve it the way we did with Pinball and Color Crush – add lots of new sound packs to make the game more fun: body sounds, bird sounds, animal sounds and more.

You can download this game at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-breakout/id1051805064?mt=8

 

Blindfold Barnyard – Now with a Pond

Last year, I was watching my daughter play the iPhone game “Goat Evolution” while we were on vacation, and thought a variant that would be a fun audio game.  The idea of Goat Evolution game is to drag two similar goats together, and that produces a newly evolved goat that was worth more points.  You repeat the process with the more powerful goats, until you create the ultimate goat.

animals in barnyard

The basis for the audio equivalent would be where you use finger to explore the screen to find the first goat, then use another finger to find a second goat, and then drag the two goats together.  As you explore, when you  first finger passes over a goat, you would hear the goat, and the goat would then follow that finger; the gestures would be the same for the second goat.

I prototyped this game, and found that locating goats was extremely difficult, and dragging them towards each other almost impossible.  Not only was the game hard to play when I was looking at the screen, getting the app to switch quickly between one finger and two finger dragging is unreliable on the iPhone.

I modified the game to use just one finger, and instead of combining with another animal, the goal of the game was to drag the animal to the edge of the screen.  That turned the game into Blindfold Barnyard: drag barnyard animals to the north, south, east or west fences.

To earn points, once you have a bunch of similar animals at a fence, swipe with 2 fingers to move those animals into the barn.  The more animals that are hitched and moved, the higher you score.  For one animal, one point.  Two animals, three points.  Three animals, six points, and so on.  But if you attempt to hitch a different animal to the fence, all of the animals run away from the fence.  New animals appear in the barnyard every few seconds.

The testers really liked the game, but had trouble finding animals.  I added two methods to locate the animals: compass and clock directions.  With compass directions, the game tells you where the nearest animal is, such as “Horse to the north east”.  With clock directions, the game tells you “Sheep at 3 o’clock”.

I’ve been told some people are scoring as high as 2,000 points in the 3 minute game, and the instructions are quite funny.

Recently, I added more barnyards, including one with a pond in the middle that you must avoid.

You can get this game at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-barnyard/id1069200628?mt=8

Blindfold Pinball

While I was creating an audio game similar Skee Ball, which is called Blindfold Vee Ball, I asked the blind testers why they enjoyed playing that game.  Several of them couldn’t remember what skee ball was, until I described it in detail.  Skee Ball is a bowling like game where you roll a wooden ball up a ramp, and then it lands in a hole in one of several concentric circles.  The harder the shot, the more points you get.  You get one paper ticket for each point, and the tickets can be traded to get prizes.

The testers told me they liked that game since the sounds were interesting: the sound of the ball rolling and the sound of the paper tickets being ejected from the machine.  They also mentioned they liked pinball for the same reason – lots of cool sounds and by pressing the flipper button again and again, they kept the ball in motion.

And, of course, once the conversation shifted to pinball, several requested a Blindfold Pinball game.cartoon person playing pinball

To build a pinball game, you need several components:

  • A physics engine, or simulator, so the ball on the screen bounces off of the bumpers and rolls just like a real-word pinball machine.
  • Interesting sounds when the ball bounces into a bumper, with different sounds for each type of bumper.
  • Flippers, so you can flip the ball back up to the top of the machine to keep the ball in play.
  • A scoring system, so the more bumpers you hit, the higher the score you get.
  • A pinball shooter, to first launch the pinball.

The pinball shooter was the easiest to create.  As you drag your finger down the screen, you hear the following sound:

Once you let go, the ball is fired up the narrow channel and into the main pinball game area.  Gravity, emulated by the physics engine, lets the ball roll down towards the bottom of the pinball machine until it either leaves the playing area, or you hit it with one of the flippers.

I’ll go into more details about the bumpers in the next blog.  You can download the game for the iPhone or iPad here: Blindfold Pinball

Blindfold Game Popularity

I was curious as to which of the Blindfold games have been the most popular since Blindfold Racer was created back in 2014.

bar graph

I use a service called App Annie, that interacts with the Apple iTunes store, and keeps track of downloads and purchases.  We are never told who actually purchases the games; only the number of app downloads and in-app purchases.  Apple keeps your identity and purchase history confidential.

The top 10 games based on downloads are:

  1. Blindfold Racer: 13,153
  2. Blindfold Bowling: 6,865
  3. Blindfold Word Games: 4,902
  4. Blindfold RS Games: 4,806
  5. Blindfold Bingo: 4,400
  6. Blindfold Spin and Solve: 4,371
  7. Blindfold Solitaire: 3,634
  8. Blindfold Simon: 3,555
  9. Blindfold Blackjack: 3,528
  10. Blindfold Color Crush: 3,316

The top 10 games based on in-app upgrade purchases are:

  1. Blindfold RS Games
  2. Blindfold Bowling
  3. Blindfold Spin and Solve
  4. Blindfold Travel Cards
  5. Blindfold Color Crush
  6. Blindfold Blackjack
  7. Blindfold Solitaire
  8. Blindfold Video Poker
  9. Blindfold Word Games
  10. Blindfold Wildcard

The least popular games based on downloads are:

  1. Blindfold Fireworks: 276
  2. Blindfold Cat and Mouse Solitaire: 714
  3. Blindfold Snakes and Puzzles: 888
  4. Blindfold Soccer Kick: 1,032
  5. Blindfold Phrase Madness: 1,259

The least popular games based on in-app upgrade purchases are:

  1. Blindfold Sudoku
  2. Blindfold Fireworks
  3. Blindfold Juggle
  4. Braille Spin and Solve
  5. Blindfold Soccer Kick

There are three “multi-player” games: where you play with someone else, either in the same room, or via Apple’s game Center.  The games are Blindfold Wildcard with Friends, Blindfold Road Trip with Friends and Blindfold Crazy 8 with Friends.  All three games combined were not even downloaded as much as the least popular game (Blindfold Fireworks).

Any of these games can be download from: http://Blindfoldgames.org

Blindfold Games: January Update

Happy New Year.

I often get asked for a list of games that we’ve built.  Here’s the current list, from the newest to the oldest.

Click on the game to go directly to the iTunes download page.  All games are designed for rapid audio play and have been built with the help of dozens of visually impaired gamers.

Games are listed with the newest games first.  Click on the game to go directly to the iTunes download page.  All games are designed for rapid audio play and have been built with the help of dozens of visually impaired gamers.

Blindfold Trivia Match – Just like Jeopardy.

Blindfold Snakes and Puzzles – Snakes and Ladders but with trivia or arithmetic puzzles

Blindfold Soccer Kick – Soccer – European Football – Kicking and Blocking.

Blindfold Cat and Mouse – A two player card game similar to solitaire, but much easier.

Blindfold Sound Search – More Sound Packs added.  Matching game using Common Animals, Asian Animals, National Anthems, Musical Instruments and Everyday Sounds.

Blindfold Color Crush – Many more gem packs added: A cross between Bejeweled and Candy Crush.

Blindfold Barnyard – New barnyards added: Move your animals from the barnyard to the fence to the barn.  It’s addicting!

Braille Spin and Solve – Practice your braille contractions. Inspired by Wheel of Fortune, spin to guess a letter or a contraction in the phrase and win.

Blindfold Greeting Card – Create and send your own audio cards to friends and family.

Blindfold RS Games – Now with 21 different multi-player games, played by thousands of people on Windows and Mac, are now available on the iPhone and iPad.

Blindfold Basketball – Grab the ball and start shooting.  Great sound effects!

Blindfold Bird Songs – Find that Bird and Match that bird – two great games for learning bird songs.

Blindfold Checkers – Play checkers with easy, medium or expert opponents.

Phrase Madness – Famous as a windows game, now on the iPhone and iPad.  Match the phrases and laugh your socks off.

Blindfold Pinball – Play pinball on diffferent pinball machines.

Blindfold Pool – Play pool by hitting your cue ball into the other balls, and landing them in the pockets.  Hours and hours of fun.

Blindfold Spin and Solve – Inspired by Wheel of Fortune, spin to guess a letter in the phrase and win.

Blindfold Shuffleboard  – Slide your discs into the scoring area, and push your opponents discs out of the way.

Blindfold Road Trip– Be the first player to drive 1000 miles in this card game similar to 1000 miles or Miles Bornes.

Blindfold Bingo – Play bingo with lots of patterns. Win coins. Record yourself saying Bingo and share it.

Blindfold Crazy Eights with Friends – Crazy Eights card game with with other people, via Game Center or in the same room.

Blindfold Word Games– Hangman, Word Ladder, Scramble and Word Flick.

Blindfold Horse Race– Race against other horses by walking your fingers on the screen.

Blindfold Juggle– Juggle animals on earth and other planets.

Blindfold Rummy – Gin Rummy card game – collect sets and runs of cards.

Blindfold Tile Puzzle – Tile games including 2048 and Threes, with several variations.

Blindfold Vee Ball – Just like Skee ball: Roll a ball up a ramp to land in the highest point hole.

Blindfold Craps – Dice game where you bet on the outcome of a dice roll, just like in Las Vegas.

Blindfold Air Hockey – Air Hockey – use your mallet to shoot the puck into your opponent’s goal.

Blindfold Breakout – Breakout game where you smash bricks with a ball, similar to the arcade game.

Blindfold Bowling – Ten pin bowling just like at the bowling alley.

Blindfold Roulette – Play roulette just like in Las Vegas.

Blindfold Hopper – Inspired by the old video game frogger.

Blindfold Pong – Pong game similar to the classic arcade game.

Blindfold Dominoes -Dominoes game where you play until you are out of tiles or blocked.

Blindfold Hearts – Hearts card game where you avoid collecting hearts or you can shoot the moon.

Blindfold Simon – My Simon type game where you follow patterns based on gestures and sounds.

Blindfold Spades – Spades card game where you bid and collect tricks as you win each hand.

Blindfold War – The classic war card game where you try to collect all the cards.

Blindfold Solitaire – Solitaire card games including Klondike, Spider, Free Cell, Golf and many others.

Blindfold Wildcard – An Uno type card game.

Blindfold Crazy Eights – Crazy Eights card game with several variants of play.

Blindfold Video Poker – Video Poker just like the machines in Las Vegas.

Blindfold Blackjack – Play Blackjack against the dealer.

Blindfold Sudoku – Audio Sudoku in a 9 by 9 grid, with easy, medium and hard levels.

Blindfold Sudoku Mini – Audio Sudoku in a 4 by 4 grid, lots of fun and great for people who never played Sudoku before.

Blindfold Cryptogram – Decode famous quotes and phrases in a letter substitution game

Blindfold Racer – Drive your car using your ears, not your eyes.  The original game that started all of this.