Eye-opener at scrabble tourney; also mahjong for blind people?
- Published on Saturday, 12 September 2009 06:27
- Written by Staff
MALAYSIA - Six visually handicapped participants created history at the Mines Mensa Scrabble Challenge 2009 that took place recently at the Mines Shopping Fair in Malaysia. For the very first time, visually handicapped people had taken up the challenge and competed alongside their sighted counterparts in the mainstream tournament. According to the Malaysian Society for the Blind (SBM), blind people are also able to play mahjong.
The six players who competed in the Scrabble Challenge were selected from the SBM. A new category, 'Seeing is Believing', was created specially for them, complementing the usual categories of Masters, Intermediate and Beginners. The event attracted more than 80 participants from all over the country.
Modified scrabble sets with embossed Braille boards and tiles were provided for these players.
While tournament rules require sighted players to draw tiles from green scrabble tile bags raised above eye-level, this would have given the blind players an advantage as they would have been able to feel the Braille tiles. In view of this, the Braille tiles were placed face downwards in a tray for the players to draw from.
A helper assisted each of the three pairs of blind players to keep time and score. The players were allocated 40 minutes per person per game instead of the usual 25 minutes.
Much to the surprise of those present, the blind exhibited a natural ability for scrabble, with some of them forming bingos with ease. Many curious onlookers drew near to observe them play and went away impressed and inspired. In a matter of a few minutes, old preconceived notions and the prejudices of the sighted were swept away by the assured play of the blind competitors.
“The world of the sighted and the world of the blind are very separate”, says SBM sports chairman A. Majid Jaafar, who led the SBM team of visually impaired. “Their lives are very empty, so indoor games are very important to them. SBM provides sports facilities to the blind. These games include Scrabble, in which conventional scrabble boards are modified by having Braille embossed on clear hard plastic grids that are fixed on top of the board’s surface, enabling the blind and sighted to play together.
“Apart from scrabble, SBM members play over twenty different games, including chess, dominos, checkers, congkak, modified ping-pong (in which the balls do not bounce), lotto (bingo) and mahjong,” he added.
(The Star Online)