Chess and Computers for Vision Impaired Players

Introduction

There are several applications and websites for playing chess against computers or humans. Unfortunately, not all of these are fully accessible to screen reader users. On this page, you will find information about applications that some of our members have found usable.

If you know of any apps or sites that you have found to be accessible or if you just need some advise, please contact us.

Shredder Chess for iPhone or iPad

This is a very affordable app which has been made accessible with Voice Over on the iPhone or iPad. A piece can be moved by locating its current square and then double tapping to select it. Then repeat the process for the destination square. When the 'Enable one-tap-input' option is selected from the settings tab, double tapping on a square will immediately move a piece to that square without the need to select the piece first if that piece is the only one that can legally move there. Similarly, if only one destination square is available to a piece, double tapping on the piece's current square will instantly make the move. This may speed things up somewhat but does make accidental moves more likely. Fortunately there is a button on the screen to undo moves. The playing strength can be adjusted and has an approximate ELO rating of 2600 on its highest setting. It is also possible to analyse the current position to find the best move.

The app can be purchased through the app store and you can find more information at shredderchess.com.

Chess-wise

This is another app that has been made accessible with Voice Over on the iPhone. You can play against the engine, play on-line through the Free Inter Chess Server, and access a large database of games.

It can be downloaded from the app store and you can learn more at chess-wise.com.

 

Fritz

Fritz has been one of the most popular chess applications for years and older versions of the software are quite accessible once some settings have been changed. We cannot comment at this time on the accessibility of the current version however be warned that the more recent releases were not suitable for visually impaired people.

Fritz accessibility notes.

Winboard

Winboard 4.5.2 has been specifically designed for visually-impaired people using either JAWS or NVDA on Windows. You can play against an engine, analyse games or play people on-line. It also has the unusual feature of allowing a wide range of chess variants. For more information or to download the software visit https://sourceforge.net/projects/winboard45forja.

Playing on-line

The popular online chess site "lichess" (short for Libre Chess) has an accessibility mode which makes playing games online possible for players with a vision impairment. Although not all parts of the site are accessible, playing games is easy with a screen-reader and some of our members have had a great deal of success with the platform.
Read more about lichess here.

The Internet Chess Club lets people play against each other through software installed on their own devices. Visually impaired people can access this software by installing an additional plug-in called "Blitz-in speak-move". It can be found at https://www.chessclub.com/help/plugins.
Learn more about the Internet Chess Club.