How Mattel Inc. Helps Create an Accessible World with UNO

Photo courtesy of Mattel

Playing UNO with friends and family members just got more fun and inclusive. Mattel Inc. launched the first-ever braille version of its number one card game on Oct. 1. This new deck will give the visually impaired the ability to play UNO, making one of America’s classic card games widely accessible to even more families. 

UNO Braille is not Mattel’s first attempt at creating an inclusive experience for people of all ages. In 2017, the manufacturer released UNO ColorADD where 350 million people globally and 13 million Americans who are color blind can take part in the card game. 

The toy manufacturer designed UNO Braille in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, the largest and oldest nationwide organization of blind people in the United States. According to Mattel, there will be braille markings on the corner of each card that indicate the color, number or action. 

The packaging will include braille on the front and back, so individuals with visual disabilities can find them in stores—a new experience for children who are tired of feeling one standard box after another in the toy aisle. It also directs users to the UNO Braille website, which has the game instructions available in BRF format for braille printers; voice-enabled instructions can also be accessed through Amazon Alexa and Google home.

Mattel’s partnership with the National Federation of the Blind will help raise awareness for those with visual impairments; furthermore, it will enable more than 7 million blind and low-vision Americans in the country to experience the joy and thrill of yelling, “Uno!” during game nights with friends and family. This new deck of UNO cards is a pivotal step taken by Mattel as it will aid in creating a world in which individuals of all ages and disabilities feel included in their communities. 

The president of the National Federation of the Blind Mark Riccobono praised Mattel in a press release for making the card game more accessible and called the launch a “truly historic moment for blind people.” He further stated that the game helps promote “the importance and normalcy of braille by putting it in places people might not expect.” 

The launch of UNO Braille will help integrate the importance of braille as a critical tool for literacy for the blind and even allow sighted players to have the opportunity to learn braille. We should not live in a world where we make individuals with disabilities adapt to our ways of living; we should build a world in which everyone—regardless of their physical or mental condition—has equal opportunity and access to every aspect of society.

On the game’s official launch date, a short clip on Mattel’s Twitter for UNO Braille featured blind and sighted individuals playing the new version of the card game together.

“It’s a sighted world, so it’s important to have accessibility for the blind,” said Raveena Alli, a visually impaired child in the clip, “But also to be able to pull out a deck of cards and say, ‘Hey, there’s braille and print on this, do you wanna play?’ And it will just be really fun.” 

Other major toy manufacturers like Hasbro should follow Mattel’s footsteps in designing accessible and inclusive versions of their board games such as Clue or the Game of Life to help create a fun and valuable learning experience for everyone. And although the company released a braille version of Monopoly in the 1970s, it is not easily found on the shelves of retail companies like the many editions of the board game—Game of Thrones, Fortnite and Toy Story to name a few—nor is it financially accessible, as it retails at $58.95 on Maxi-Aids and $94.95 on Braille Bookstore. 

Mattel’s UNO Braille is currently available at Target stores nationwide and online for just $9.99. Even though the new card game was released four days ago, it is now sold out online and has garnered widespread approval on Twitter as users expressed their excitement for the new and improved deck of cards.

“Love, love, LOVE! Being able to go to Target and buy an accessible deck of UNO cards. Wishful thinking? No! Now, it’s a reality!!” one user tweeted. “What if there is a way where people can also learn the Braille language through this game! Uno is stepping up!” another tweet read.

The positive impact UNO Braille will have on the visually impaired will hopefully inspire other ways of integrating braille into our society. If we can incorporate braille into a card game, why can’t we do the same with canned goods, jars or other packaged foods? Blind and low-vision people would no longer have to shake a can to try to guess its contents; braille labels can help one identify green beans from soup, preventing any confusion when it comes to cooking. We should not let the visually impaired adjust to the sighted world by themselves. 

Learning braille is essential for the visually impaired to excel in a world where sight and literacy is deeply valued. The launch of UNO Braille helps create a more inclusive and accessible society for blind and low-vision people and will encourage the spread of awareness for the importance of integrating braille in all aspects of our world. 

Bernadine Sobingsobing is a third-year English major. She can be reached at bsobings@uci.edu.