hobbies. Board games finally accessible to everyone?

This is one of the advantages of consecutive lockdowns: the French have started playing again, and not just on the screens. After a 10% jump in sales in 2020, the French market for board games, cards and puzzles saw another 12% sales increase last year, becoming the first category in the market. French for Toys and Games, specifies LSA.

Some games that combine work with play even offer education while playing, like the Keski games, which raise awareness of various disabilities, or the Elix games, which are sign language-based and allow children, hearing people, but also and to discover especially to play with hard of hearing or deaf people.

A limited offer

“A lot of game publishers are working on the problem of color blind people,” said Gautier Althaus, public relations officer at Philibert, an online and brick-and-mortar store specializing in board games. “In fact, color-blind people are still pretty much forgotten when it can be really useless for some games,” adds Marion Blanchard, web animation manager for Ludum.fr, another dedicated site.

With the knowledge that color blindness is not even considered a handicap, there is still enormous progress to be made in terms of accessibility. “Sometimes we get requests for quotations from institutions for people with disabilities, but we don’t necessarily manage to respond to them. We are not specialists,” admits Gautier Althaus. “In discussions with educators or workshop leaders, we often succeed in understanding which games might be suitable,” he specifies, lamenting the lack of dedicated offers from publishers.

Two exceptions

The Accessijeux association partially fills this gap by offering 300 games accessible to the visually impaired in its Paris toy library and through its online store. While these are mainly games chosen for their accessible rules or for which the material has been adapted, the federation also publishes its own games.

Another initiative, the most recent so far: the French publisher Asmodee launched Access + last May, a studio responsible for adapting its games to people with cognitive disorders. At the end of September, three of the brand’s bestsellers were relaunched in an Access+ version: Dobble, Timeline and Cortex with larger and thicker cards for easier handling, enlarged font and adapted rules.

In Dobble, the cards range from eight to four, five, or six symbols, depending on the level of difficulty. For Cortex, the colors have been reworked to emphasize the contrasts. Finally, in this version, Timeline is equipped with timelines to visualize the placement of event cards. The prices have also been revised upwards: 25 euros per piece versus 10 euros for the classic versions of Dobble and Timeline.

Should the Access+ range not be available on Ludum.fr, its competitor Philibert has given it a place of choice in its Strasbourg store for a launch at the end of September. The games should then only be available online. “This is a range that we will stick to and that we will not subordinate ourselves to,” Gautier Althaus specifies.

“The illness brings moments of rupture, the games make it possible to reconnect,” argues Marie-Jeanne Richard, President of the National Union of Families and Friends of the Sick and/or Mentally Handicapped (Unafam). She welcomes Asmodee’s initiative: “It was time to think about accessibility beyond pavement height, to think about enjoyment. »

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