contact me at

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the 4th tactile carnival

Blurb: Games, fun, slime, Godzilla, food, laughter, prizes... and
everything is accessible? That can only mean one thing.

Welcome to the 4th Tactile Carnival!

What is the Tactile Carnival? It's the brain-child, obsession and
trade mark of my friend, Scott Stoffel. He's part engineer, part
little boy and a whole lot of fun. He understands how
inaccessible the world can be, because he is DeafBlind like me.
He's stood on the outside wishing he could play but knowing it
could never be.

Some people would sadly walk away, give-up and curse this dark
and silent life. Scott's not like that. He sees a problems and
begins working on what can be changed to make things better. That
is how the Tactile Carnival was born.

Carnival style games can be accessible to people who are
DeafBlind or blind. The trick is to make them as tactile as
possible. Touch is what we know best. It illuminates what we
can't see or hear. Just like that, we are no longer on the
outside. Instead, we are playing fun games, winning tokens and
"buying" cool prizes. For one day, for a few hours, we are the
center of the universe and no longer feel like something inhuman.
That's what makes the Tactile Carnival so awesome.

Scott has hosted four Tactile Carnivals in the past year. The
original and 4th were held in East PA, near where he lives. The
2nd carnival was an Earth Day theme for children at the Overbrook
School for the blind. The 3rd carnival was a space-themed evening
activity at the DeafBlind Camp of Maryland. As Scott's friend,
I've had the pleasure to attend the past two carnivals and serve
as his guinea pig as he develops new games.

Here is my experience at the 4th Tactile Carnival on October
12th, 2013. The first word that comes to mind is: CROWDED. The
carnival was paired with a Deaf-CAN SSP awareness event. Over 100
people attended. There were 15 DeafBlind people and a few
hearing-blind. The bravest guests wore blindfolds or low vision
goggles and ear-plugs and set out to to see what it's like from
the DeafBlind perspective. There was free food and a lot of
chatting. But let us skip ahead to the games... We begin with
Scott's game descriptions, followed by my own comments.

Wipe-Out! - Surf's up! Advance your surfer up the scoring board
by rolling the right numbers on the
tactile dice. But if you roll the wrong number, it's a wipe-out,
and you must start over with your next surfer. Drop one of your
three life-preservers at th spot your surfer is on to preserve
that spot as your next surfer's starting point . unless the
shark gets you.

** With all the people, getting around the crowd and trying to
find my disappearing SSP's, I was unable to play all the games,
including this one. However, I tested it in July. It's a tough
game of strategy and luck. I made the mistake of dropping my
life-preservers too early. On my last board, I came so close to
the end. But, no good... Wipe-out!

The Hot Wheel - Place your
four discs on the betting board and see how long you can keep the
giant wheel
spinning. Each time the wheel stops on one of your lucky numbers,
your score
increases. Land on Party Street or the Fast Lane to nab bonuses.
But avoid the Yield, Traffic Jam and those fatal Stop signs. The
24-inch wheel is marked with raised numbers, letters and street
** This is the new version of "Spin to win." It's much easier,
longer and all-around more exciting. Spin-city and watch your
pile of tokens grow! I was burning hot on this one... twice!

Godzilla vs. Angry Birds -
The Angry Birds have a bigger problem than pesky piglets-a lot
bigger! Guide your five clay Angry Birds characters across the
tactile game board to the safety area and win points. Pick up
bonuses by grabbing the birdfeeders along the way. It's easy .
except for that one little problem. The gigantic monster is
standing in your way, and he'll try to -- stomp -- your Birds
flat on the board. And don't get clobbered by the Big G's huge
tail when he turns. You'll need some strategy and luck or end up
as a Godzilla footprint!
** Yes, you read that right. I told you Scott is crazy... and
very creative. This game is the best of the best and sure to be a
Tactile Carnival classic.

My turn against Godzilla was as intense as high-stake poker. You
really have to think about where you put your birds. I was biting
my nails every time the big, bag G. stomped around the board.
(His movements are controlled by special dice rolled by the
person managing the game.)
I picked up some feed and danced around the board, trying to
avoid those nasty feet and big long tail. I didn't appreciate it
when Godzilla's tail was half-way up my nose as I tried to
maneuver my birds. Then it happened. STOMP! The birds are made of
Play-Doh and literally flatten into a monster footprint. It
doesn't get more tactile than that. Luckily, I got my other four
birds across and won many tokens.

treasure Island - Pirates
have hidden a chest full of loot on a deserted island. Explore
the island by
turning over tiles and seeing or feeling what's under them.
Collect loose coins and earn points. If you find the treasure
chest and copper key, open the real wooden chest and find out
what's inside. Discover the silver key and you'll also get to
open the secret compartment inside the chest. But beware of the
** This is another old game that Scott improved on. Now, it's
much more tactile and easier to win... or at least it was for me!
I found the keys and got to open the chest. Tokens, tokens...
Give me more tokens! My money bag sure was feeling heavy.

Plinko - The carnival favorite returns with a new scoring
system. Braille and large print numbers mark the scoring slots at
the bottom of the 30-inch disc drop. Earn points when your discs
fall into slots with number values. Win the jackpot by landing
all three of your discs in three different slots marked 0.
** Plinko was the big winning game at camp. Scott changed the
scoring to make it harder to win. At the 4th carnival this game
wasn't as popular. I guess us gamers can't be tricked so easily.
I didn't play Plinko this time. I prefer the longer games.

Dingo Royal - The carnival
version of Dingo, the popular deaf community game, is fast-paced
and fun.. The
playing cards have large print and braille markings. Score points
by clearing
away suits. Win the jackpot by clearing all of your cards before
the dealer
runs out. One or two people can play. New scoring system awards
more points.
** I loved Dingo and enjoyed this game at camp, even thought I
got creamed by the other player. This time, I really wanted to
play against Scott. As it turned out, Mr. popularity was too hot
to catch. We never managed to get together to play.

Astro Chimps - This is no
monkey business . or maybe it is! Use the tactile aiming guides
to shoot roller pucks and knock down the chimps in spacesuits. 
Nail the Hubble Space Telescope in the middle for big points.
** This is a really cute game. I did great with it during my July
visit. At the carnival, my luck ran out. I only knocked over one
chimp. I always seem to have trouble with the target games during
the real thing.

Hold It! - Yep, that's all
you have to do! See if you can hold onto the wacky water wigglers
in the slippery slime long enough to get them into the scoring
bin. It's crazy fun
that's sure to make you lose your grip!
** Poor Scott. I keep insisting he needs a slime game. He decided
to try something new this time. Yeah, it was goofy fun -- and
very easy. This is the game people played to rack up on tokens.

Meteor Shower - Roll your balls down the alley and try to hit the
targets beyond the ramp. Check the
tactile aiming board to find out where your shots hit. Score
points when your
balls stick to the Velcro targets. New scoring system awards
points for
multiple hits on the same target. Get at least one ball on all
five targets and win the jackpot!
** Like I said, I keep striking out at the target games when I'm
playing for tokens. Maybe I need to slow down or do some
practice rounds first. I hit one target. I liked the new kneeling
mat that Scott got just for me. I find it easier to play
kneeling on the floor.

Extinct! - Once upon a time,
the dinosaurs ruled the world. Choose one of the nine jumbo
dinosaurs that you predict will outlast all the others as the
mighty creatures fall to extinction,
one by one. Score points for every dinosaur that goes down before
yours. Play the new Bonus Game whenever you discover a hidden
Dino Egg: You'll get to choose and hatch a dino egg and see what
riches lie within!
** This is one of my favorites. It's definitely tactile. I always
pick the brontosaurs because he's the veggie eater. I kicked some
pretty good dino-tail and even got to hatch an egg. Big dinos
mean big money!

Star Wars Death Star Attack - Relive the climactic scene from the
original Star Wars movie! Use your squadron of five X-Wing
fighters and the Millennium Falcon to reach and destroy the
Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star. Earn points by picking
off enemy
TIE fighters, while your force closes in on the Death Star. Once
you are in
range, you can choose whether to attack more fighters or go after
the Death
Star. The game ends when you destroy the Death Star or its turbo
laser cannon

** The Star Wars game is one of many that makes you shake your
head in awe. What kind of freaky, creative and scary smart brain
came up with this stuff? The game is so detailed. I did pretty
good and blasted that Death Star right out of the sky. Just call
me Jedi Master Angie.

You've played all these games, and you are struggling to carry
your bundling money bag... What comes next? PRIZES!

The Tactile Carnival is unique because the prizes are high
quality and fun items. The trick is trying to narrow down the
choices. This time Scott had prizes related to the game themes --
like dinosaurs, A godzilla t-shirt, pirate things and a surf
board cutting board and bottle opener. There were ASL related
t-shirts, classic braille games, Halloween decorations, teddy
bears and gourmet chocolate.

I wanted one of the little pumpkin decorations that light up.
Each one had a different face and silly hat. As soon as I had
enough tokens, I ran to the prize table to claim the last

At the end of the day, I had lots of tokens but no idea what I
wanted. I did a lot of searching before picking a Pirate
Nutcracker for my son's nutcracker collection. I also got him one
of the wacky wigglers - minus the slime. After grabbing two
twizzlers, I was done, happy and very tired.

When's the next Tactile Carnival? I don't know. But I sure hope
to be there!

No comments:

Post a Comment