When I was invited to talk to a group of people at the Hadley School for the Blind, two people suggested I create a game that uses braille contractions.
In braille, there are 6 dot positions, where each letter corresponds to a different combination of dots. For example, the letter “A” is dot position 1, and the letter “R” is dot positions 1,2,3 and 5. Because braille takes up much more space than printed letters, books may be 5 to 10 times as large.
To solve that, contracted braille offers a shorthand for commonly used words or word fragments. The single word “AF”, represented by the braille dots for the letter “A” followed by the braille dots for the letter “F” translates to the word “AFTER”. The braille dots 1,2,3,4 and 6 translates to the fragment “AND”, which can be used in the word CANDY. The contracted braille for CANDY is: dots 1,4 for the letter “C”, dots 1,2,3,4,6 for the fragment “AND” and the dots 1,3,4,5,6 for the letter “Y”.
The ideas was to convert one of the Blindfold Games to accommodate braille contractions. The first step was to determine the purpose of the game. Should it be a teaching tool, or a practice tool?
I talked with several people active in promoting and teaching Braille, and we concluded that a practice tool would be preferred over a teaching tool, since each school for the blind uses their own curriculum, and each teaches concepts in a different order. The target audience would be people who already learned braille (either UEB or AEB), and simply want to practice their skills.
We looked at the 50 Blindfold Games that are available on the iPhone and iPad, and concluded that either Blindfold Word Games or Blindfold Spin and Solve would be the most appropriate. Since so many people enjoy Spin and Solve – a variant of Wheel of Fortune – we chose Spin and Solve.
Next time – converting 12,000 phrases to braille.