Contributed by Lynda Jones, CVRT, Peer Advisor.

Dominoes Are Fun for Everyone to Play

Some folks thoroughly enjoy playing the latest and greatest electronic games, but still find a competitive game of dominoes exhilarating! If this statement describes you, but visual impairment is affecting your ability to enjoy an exciting round of dominoes, keep reading to learn more about adaptations that can help you continue playing.

My Family’s Love of Dominoes

My family’s fanaticism about dominoes could be measured by how many sets of dominoes we owned. Initially, we played with a traditional set of black dominoes with white dots. When it became increasingly difficult for me to see the dots clearly, my mom purchased a set of red dominoes that were considerably larger than the black set.

The dots were also larger and I could feel them with my fingers and accurately count the dot combinations on each domino. The red color was just as easy for me to see against the light-colored kitchen table. This red set came with a booklet that described several games you could play with dominoes. Eventually, we got a set of green “double-nines” as we learned new games.

Adapted Dominoes

In the 1980s, I was introduced to an adapted set of dominoes with raised dots:

  • They are white with black raised dots about the size of a pea.
  • The two ends of each domino are divided by a raised black line.
  • They are available in “double sixes” only.
Dominoes with raised dots

Dominoes with raised dots from
the Chicago Lighthouse Retail Store

Setting Up the Playing Area

If you have usable vision, you may still find the adapted dominoes easier to see:

  • Cover the playing area with a dark cloth. The white dominoes with their contrasting black dots will boldly stand out against the dark background, making it easier to see where to place your next domino.
  • Black, dark blue, or green felt does not cause glare and it will help hold the dominoes in place.
  • Use task lighting that you can position to shine directly on the playing area, rather than ambient ceiling lights that diffuse and spread the light.

Organizing the Game

Now, more than ever, how you organize your unplayed dominoes is critical:

  • At the beginning of each round, look at each domino at least twice with your eyes or fingers or both.
  • Make sure you haven’t mistaken a three for a five or a five/three for a double five or a double four for a four/two.
  • Develop a way of hiding your unplayed dominoes from your sighted competitors. If you arrange your unplayed dominoes in three rows with three fives together, two threes together, and two blanks, it won’t take the competition long to figure out how many you have of each denomination.

Suggestions for Playing

To get started, you may want to play a game with simple rules; for example, try a game that lets you add dominoes to the ends of a single line only. Next, allow a single domino to be added to each end of a double. As you gain speed and confidence, you can play games like Chicken Foot:

  • For the uninitiated, Chicken Foot is like the card game Old Maid with dominoes.
  • It gets its name from the shape of the pieces when the game is over.
  • Each time someone plays a double, all three sides must be played on before you can play somewhere else. This creates a chicken foot shape.
  • Let’s say someone plays a double four. If you are next to play and don’t have a four you must skip your turn and so on.
  • The double blank is the Old Maid. If you get caught without playing it, you get 50 extra points.
  • The person with the fewest points wins!

Purchasing Adapted Dominoes

You can purchase adapted dominoes from specialty companies that sell products for people who are blind or visually impaired.