Skip to content

Keeping Blind and Visually Impaired People in the Game with Accessible Crossword Puzzles

When his mom's vision loss made it hard to enjoy word games, technologist Laurent Lalet developed Word Speaking Vocal Crossword, an accessible way to play.

Laurent stands over his mom's shoulder as she plays Word Speaking Vocal Crossword on a smartphone

My mum has been visually impaired as a result of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for 15 years. Today, she is almost completely blind.

I’m her caregiver and I have followed her journey from the beginning – seeing her doing less and less activities over time. I shared my concerns with associations for the blind, orthoptists and opticians because I saw a real need to develop solutions that would help people like my mother continue to engage in brain-stimulating activities, especially word games.

As R&D manager for more than 20 years in a healthcare company, I decided two years ago to use my skills and take on the challenge of developing a totally accessible crossword game for people who are blind and visually impaired.

Introducing Word Speaking Vocal Crossword

My goal in developing Word Speaking Vocal Crossword was to restore the enjoyment of games to people who may have retreated from their active lives because of low vision or blindness. The game offers a range of options from visuals supported by audio to a full voice mode designed to support people all along the spectrum of vision loss.

In visual mode, players still have the benefit of large letters, accessible fonts and contrasts, as well as the option of adding voice support. In vocal mode, players have no need to read or type at all.

The game is available in the Apple App Store, and the first two puzzles are free.

Feedback matters (so, what did my mom think?)

My mom said, “Because of my AMD, I couldn’t play word games or read newspapers or books. The time seemed so long to me and I was bored for a good part of the day. This app gives me the chance to keep playing word games and be active with my mind.”

Other people share her sentiment – these are just a few of the comments I’ve received:

“I’ve tried it out! I love it! I have a couple of students who would really like it.”

“It’s an awesome game. I highly recommend it. It’s so much fun!”

“It’s an awesome idea! Thank you!”

That’s my story – and I hope many blind and visually impaired people who love word games will discover this app and enjoy it.

About the Author

Laurent Lalet is founder and CEO of Brain Games Speaking SAS, a company that develops educational word games via digital applications designed with procedures specially adapted for people with visual impairments.

To keep up with Word Speaking Vocal Crossword, follow on Twitter.

Published on:
Dilani Sandamali stands on a lush garden path wearing a bright pink and gold sari

Living and Achieving Beyond my Blindness

Professional head shot of visually impaired actor Chris Swensen - she's wearing a ruffled dress and smiling broadly

Lights, Camera, Inclusion: Life as a Visually Impaired Actor