Braille Wheel of Fortune

About two years ago, I converted Blindfold Spin And Solve – a variant of Wheel of Fortune – into a braille game.  It’s now going to be featured in a book.

braille alphabet

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”.

As you swipe from word to word, the game tells you how many letters in the uncontracted word, and how many cells in the contracted form. The contracted form of the word “CANDY” is the letter C, the dot pattern for the fragment “AND”, and the letter Y.  As you swipe on the word CANDY, the game tells you the contracted form has 3 cells, and the uncontracted form has 5 letters.

The game also gives you hints to make it easier.  If you guess a letter that’s not in the contracted word, but is in the uncontracted word, it tells you.  With the contracted form of the word “CANDY”, if you guess the letter “N”, the game tells you that the letter “N” is in the uncontracted form of the word, but it’s not in the puzzle.

I’ve been collaborating with Anna Dresner to improve ithe game; she’s writing a book on educational apps and will be mentioning several of the Blindfold Games, including Braille Spin and Solve.

To download the game, tap here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/braille-spin-and-solve/id1147298251?mt=8

 

 

 

 

 

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Blindfold Bopping

In many schools for the blind, you’ll often find the Bop-It toy out on a table, or in a closet.

Original Bop-It Toy

The Bop-It toy is an audio game where you follow the commands spoken by the toy – such as pulling a handle, twisting a crank, spinning a wheel or toggling a switch – with game pace speeding up as the you play.

While there’s already an accessible game in the app store based on the Bop-It toy, I had a lot of requests from teachers of the blind to build a Bop-It game.  They wanted a game to enable blind people to learn and practice  iPhone and iPad gestures.

Blindfold Bop starts out with easy mode where you are told to make one gesture every 20 seconds, for a total of 5 gestures.  The gestures are simple: tap with 1 finger, tap with 2 fingers, swipe in any direction, or shake the phone.  You get one point for each correct gesture, and the game is over after 3 mistakes.    If you didn’t make 3 mistakes, you move to the  next level, where the gestures come a little faster, about every 15 seconds, and you get two points for each correct gesture.  Each level is a little faster than the prior, and the points go up.

Once you get good at the easy mode, medium mode tests you on gestures such as tap, tap with 2 fingers, swipe up, swipe down, swipe left, swipe right and shake.  These are the most common gestures to control many apps, and performing well in Blindfold Bop translates to using the iPhone very effectively.

Hard mode trains you to perfect more 2 finger gestures such as swiping left and right with 2 fingers, and making a twisting motion.  Twisting is placing your thumb and forefinger on the phone, and twisting the two fingers in a circle, either clockwise or counter-clockwise.  The twist gesture is identical to operating the iPhone rotor – a key part of iPhone accessibility.  Many actions, such as copying and pasting are done with the rotor.

Similar to Blindfold Simon, Blindfold Bop lets you compete with another player, by passing the phone back and forth.  First you complete a level, then your friend completes that level, until one of you makes 3 mistakes.

Thanks to all the Blindfold Bop testers, who gave me ideas on which gestures to include in each level, and how to make the game more challenging.

To download Blindfold Bop, tap here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-bop/id1272873004?mt=8

 

 

 

 

Blindfold TV Game Shows

One of the difficulties in a building TV Game Show game based on trivia  (such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire) is finding trivia questions.  There are commercial vendors who sell questions, but they cost about $1 per question (about $1000 for 1000 questions).  For games that are used by sighted people, recouping that investment is probably easy.  However, Blindfold Games appeal only to people with visual impairments, so the audience is much smaller, and recouping several thousand dollars to pay for the games is almost impossible.

Instead, I rely on “open source” questions – trivia questions that are in the “public domain” and are free to use.  Unfortunately, these questions comes with the correct answer, but not a set of related wrong answers.

That means you would have to type, or dictate, the correct answer, and you would have to spell it perfectly.  Consider the question “Who sketched a design for a helicopter hundreds of years ago”.   You might answer “Leonardo de Vinci” or “Leanardo de Vinci” or “Lenardo Vince”.  Most people aren’t perfect spellers, so the game needs a way to know if something is slightly misspelled.

This problem was solved by Vladmir Levenshtein in 1965, who came up with a formula to compute the distance between two words.  The distance scores for the above three answers are 1, 2 and 5 respectively.  Any distance under 8 is usually considered a close enough answer.

The problem gets a little more complex if the answer has more than one word.  In this example, while you would be correct if you said “da Vinci” or “Leonardo”, the distance score is in the range of 15 to 20, which would make your wrong.

To solve that problem, some of the Blindfold TV Game Show games will tell you how many letters or words are in the answer.  Knowing there are three words in the answer, some variant of “Leonardo da Vinci” would be correct.  Giving an answer such as “Christopher de Columbus”, which also has three words, scores 19, making it wrong.

Now that this problem is solvable, I can begin building more TV Game Show games.

To get Blindfold Trivia Match, similar to Jeopardy, click here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blindfold-trivia-match/id1162281244?mt=8