Chinese chess set for the visually impaired become national standard

Invented by Professor Michael Siu, Professor and Lab Leader of the Public Design Lab of the PolyU School of Design, in 2008, the Chinese chess set is the first of its kind with an inclusive and universal concept which allows people with different vision capabilities, including the visually impaired and the blind people, to enjoy playing chess together. It aims to promote an inclusive society and eliminate discrimination in the community.

With the support from the China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities and the China Association of the Blind, the chess set will be introduced to provincial chess competitions for the blind this year, and for the national chess competition next year.

Working in collaboration with the Hong Kong Blind Union, PolyU researchers have adopted a "participatory design" approach in developing the chess set. This invention has clinched numerous international design and invention awards: including Grand Award and Gold Medal at the 36th International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products in Geneva, Pentium Award of the China’s Most Successful Awards, and several international grand awards in the UK and Malaysia invention expos.

The chess set can help visually impaired people distinguish different chess pieces, including the different colours of pieces; search, read, locate, move and pick up pieces; read pieces from different directions without any confusion; realize the whole setting of the chess game; and learn and become familiar with the game easily. More importantly, the newly invented international tactile information overcomes the perplexing variations of existing Braille systems based on the pronunciation of dialects.

Representing the China Paralympic Center and the China Association of the Blind, Mr Teng Weimin, Vice President of China Paralympic Committee and China Association of the Blind, presented a special souvenir to PolyU as a token of appreciation. The souvenir was a Chinese calligraphy by Mr Deng Pufang, Vice President of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Honorary Chairman of China Disabled Persons’ Federation.