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FAQ 7S. "I need tiles for a sight-impaired player. Any help?"

There are three different approaches discussed herein: Big Numbers, Braille, and Color-Blindness tips. You can scroll down to read my tips on those.

But most people who've emailed me regarding this issue recommend you just buy the large numbers set available from - so, you can skip all the stuff I so carefully wrote years back, scroll down to the bottom, and read some emails from readers extolling the virtues of that set. This is not me endorsing a sponsor - I wouldn't feel comfortable with that - it's readers endorsing a product, which, as far as I know, is available from one vendor.

Disclaimer out of the way, here's what I wrote, before people started emailing me about the large numbers set from WhereTheWindsBlow:


There are four ways you could go:

1. Some vendors carries large-size sets suitable for the visually impaired (like the "Easy Reader" set, for instance). See vendors list in FAQ 4a (click the FAQ 4a link in the nav frame at left). Look on the KMA site, the Yellow Mountain Imports site, Where The Winds Blow, the AMJA site, and check out the other vendors too. If you don't see what you want on their sites, call them. Phone them up, tell'em what you're looking for, see what they may have. But before you call, know whether you need a 152-tile American set with racks, or a 144-tile Asian-style set, or what (ask your sight-impaired person if she plays with the National Mah Jongg League card or not -- see FAQ 7a).

2. Sets with fairly large indices manufactured by "KFC" are available through the Mah Jongg Maven, and probably other vendors as well (see FAQ 4a).

3. You can probably make suitable tiles yourself! A variety of letter/number stickers are available at office supply stores and hardware stores. Or read FAQ 7t and learn how to make your own custom stickers.

You only need the larger Western characters on the craks and winds, assuming your sight-impaired player can see the dots and bams OK (she shouldn't try to read the little Western characters, just look at the dots and sticks on the tiles - and she might be able to tell the dragons apart OK too).

The craks and winds are the only tiles that really need big indices.

You don't really need indices at all on the dots and bams. It's very easy to simply look at the dots patterns and bams patterns and see at a glance which tile it is.

And I don't think indices are necessary for the flowers and dragons. Even if your eyesight isn't what it used to be, you can just look at the designs and tell if they're flowers, or what color dragon they are.

The goal, then, is to get (or make) the right size indices stickers for the craks and winds, and label them as above.

Or you could even just cover up the upper Chinese number with its Arabic equivalent, if you want really big indices.

If you really want, you can just put an F on all the flower tiles, and a Wh and G and R on the white, green, and red dragons.

4. Another way to go (assuming your sight-impaired person plays American-style mahj) would be to buy two Asian sets (without any Western indices) and have large numbers custom engraved.
- Dee Gallo engraves, and restores sets, and creates custom sets. Visit
- Ken Kaplan engraves tiles. See
You have to buy two sets, since those sets never contain more than 148 tiles and you need 152 for American mah-jongg. Or you could get the very large Hong Kong style tiles for even more enhanced ease of reading. Big racks may or may not be available for those big tiles - see the vendors in, you know, FAQ 4a.

From left to right: Japanese, American, Hong Kong, and Vietnamese tiles. From FAQ 7a


I have seen Braille tiles at the mah-jongg museum in Japan. I believe that the way these tiles were made was by the use of clear stick-on Braille characters (the original engraved characters are still visible through the stick-ons). There is no company manufacturing Braille mah-jongg tiles that I know of, and I don't know where to buy them. I think stickers (labels) are the way to go. I don't know where you can obtain Braille labels offhand, but I'm sure you can find them by asking around at your local Association for the Blind - or on the internet by using Google.

From the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board:

I hope you found this information helpful. I'd love to hear about solutions you've found - please send your comments to - Tom

© 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission.