by Stephanie Cascone
From the Editor: Stephanie is the director of marketing and communications, and she is working on one of our central goals, that being to partner with others in the country to advance the opportunities for blind people. Here is the article that she and officials from Mattel have offered to the Braille Monitor:
It’s a rush of excitement to have that one card left in an intense game of UNO. Round after round has gone by that included those darn Skips and Draw Fours. Who will be the first out?
It’s a game that turns family night into loud laughs or great debates. Can a Draw +4 go on top of Draw +2? But this article isn’t about the rules of UNO. Instead, it’s about how Mattel partnered with the blind to create a co-branded, accessible version of this globally popular game.
Mattel and the National Federation of the Blind are proud to announce UNO® Braille. Through a dedicated collaboration between Mattel’s game experts and the blind community, this out-of-the-box accessible game for game enthusiasts and those looking for a fun, friendly good time will be available at Target locations nationwide and online starting this month.
“In college, I played all-night tournaments. I love UNO!”
UNO isn’t new to the blind. Many of us found ways to adapt the game through the years, including Brailling our own decks with a Braillewriter or slate and stylus. But that won’t be necessary anymore. The National Federation of the Blind believes in collaboration to advance our goals, and we always welcome the opportunity to strategically partner to raise expectations and secure equality. Mattel wanted to bring an inclusive game to the nation’s blind and the mainstream market. From the beginning, this was a match made for success!
Mattel wanted the game to be right. It wanted authentic, certified Braille. It wanted accessible instructions and a fully accessible UNO Braille website. It realized that the best way to achieve all these goals was to solicit input from blind people throughout the process of creating this new version of UNO.
Every step of the way, blind people had input into this now-available product, and Mattel listened. Several rounds of samples were sent between the company and NFB headquarters until the Braille cards and instructions were perfect. Selected families with both blind and sighted members played with the new decks at our national convention and gave feedback. Our experts also vetted the website, the instructional videos, and the voice-activated tutorials that are available via Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices.
“The Braille is beautiful.”
The UNO Braille experience starts with the packaging. There is Braille on both the front and back of the box, including the name of the National Federation of the Blind. Upon opening the box, you can find four quick play cards—each with Braille and print. If more instructions are needed, they are available at UNOBraille.com or by accessing the Voice Skill on Alexa or Google Home.
Each card has Braille in two adjacent right corners. Zeros through Nines. Skips. Reverses. Draw Plus Twos. Wilds. Wild Draw Fours. Everyone playing starts with seven cards, and then the fun starts!
The development of an UNO Braille game may seem like a small and simple thing, but the spirit of inclusion and partnership that it represents is significant. Even those who don’t play UNO Braille will see it in Target stores and hear about it from blind friends and colleagues. This will expand awareness of the importance of accessibility and diversity. As UNO continues to be a staple of game nights all over the country, UNO Braille represents a win for everyone.
The National Federation of the Blind and Mattel are proud of the work we have done. Together with love, hope, and determination, we turn dreams into reality with partners and play.