An important goal of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library is to reach teens with visual impairments across the state of Washington. Due to a generous Teen Tech Week grant from YALSA and Best Buy, I hope to accomplish this goal by creating a successful adaptive gaming lab for teens with visual impairments.
Individuals with visual impairments commonly face significant social, economic, and educational barriers. One of these barriers includes the lack of affordable gaming opportunities with adaptive technology for the visually impaired. Games adapted for the visually impaired are slim and often present a financial hardship to teens, families, and educational institutions. Gaming is extremely important since play fosters crucial social, emotional, and cognitive skills in individuals of all ages.
Adaptive gaming can provide visually impaired teens with a greater sense of independence and ownership in the gaming process and their personal lives. With successful adaptations, visually impaired teens can facilitate teen led gaming opportunities of their own. Gaming and play also fosters joy and new relationships between teens. Allowing our teen patrons to be connected is crucial to our mission since many visually impaired teens experience feelings of isolation from their peers. We hope that this gaming lab will also give us the opportunity to inform teens new to the library about our broader services.
Our gaming lab will include a wide variety of games for every type of gamer. Braille board games, braille card games, tactile games and puzzles, Legos with baseplates for added stability, handheld audio games, and audio games for Windows and Mac are just some examples of what our gaming lab will have to offer. Teens will have the opportunity to play these games and provide feedback on their accessibility.
WTBBL will be offering an Adapted Gaming Lab event at our location in downtown Seattle during Teen Tech Week on Saturday, March 12th. I am also taking the gaming lab on the road to schools and educators across the state of Washington during the month of March. These outreach visits allow patrons and educators who are not able to commute to Seattle the ability to experience Teen Tech Week in their community. I hope to continue monthly gaming sessions at our Seattle location and continue to use this gaming lab in my outreach endeavors. The opportunities are endless!
You can read more about our program on the Washington Secretary of State from Our Corner blog and read more about the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library and the services we offer to youth on our website at wtbbl.org.
Marian Mays is the Youth Services Librarian at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library in Seattle, WA. She has a background in public librarianship and is a member of the Youth Stonewall Awards Committee.