Blindfold Games: A World of Mobile Fun for the Visually Impaired

(DGIwire) — Many who are visually impaired consider their mobile devices to be valuable tools for day-to-day living, but do not expect these devices to provide entertainment. This changed in 2014—when mentor-speaker, angel fund investor and award-winning innovator Marty Schultz started Blindfold Games, an app development company that builds accessible games for the visually impaired community.

The idea for Blindfold Games was conceived serendipitously during an after-school App Design Club that Schultz started at his daughter’s middle school. To date, the company has released more than 80 games—available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod—that promote learning and fun. The games have been enjoyed by more than 20,000 visually impaired people from 7 to 70 years old, and recently surpassed half a million downloads.

“Blindfold Games fall into several categories,” says Schultz. “The suite includes casino games like Blackjack and Bingo, card games like Crazy Eights and Rummy, puzzle games like Simon and Color Crush, games inspired by TV game shows such as Name That Tune, word games like Words From Words and Word Search, and sports games like Bowling, Basketball, Baseball and Soccer.”

One game, Blindfold Racer, is a classic example of how the “wow” factor and incremental learning are used in Blindfold Games. A 90-second interactive tutorial teaches players how to drive, avoid obstacles and win; then the game begins. Players “steer” with their ears instead of their eyes: if they steer too far to the left, the music gets louder in the player’s left ear; too far to the right and it’s louder in the right ear. To aim for prizes on the road, players steer so the sound is balanced in their heads. Players can speed up, slow down, and pick up and drop off items—all designed to improve coordination between steering and audio processing.

All of the games present an audio environment that keeps players engaged in game play, and some games require a great deal of physicality to play well. And unlike some other mobile games that are made accessible to visually impaired players after the fact, players say that Blindfold Games “feel right”—since they are designed from the ground up to match tactile gestures to game play.

“Offering new entertainment and educational options for this community has been a rewarding experience, and we plan to continue to grow in the years ahead,” Schultz adds.