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Special needs

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NASPA endeavors to accommodate players with special needs.

Manual Word Judging

Most tournaments use computers for word judging (Software Self Lookup, or SSL). Anyone for whom it is a hardship to get to the SSL computer may request a human word judge to come to their game table.

Players with mobility, vision, or cognitive impairments

In the past, the NSA has provided authorization for approved players to receive an extra 5 minutes playing time or other accommodations when required due to disability. NASPA will honor these accommodations (player must contact the director in advance and be prepared to present a copy of the letter they received from NSA), and will grant accommodations to players who request them, as appropriate.

In the event that a player cannot perform any of the physical actions normally required to play Scrabble without assistance, the player may obtain an accommodation to bring a personal attendant to perform actions required of the player (e.g., drawing tiles, recording score), under the direction of the player. In certain circumstances (e.g., a mobility impairment that prohibits lifting the bag above eye level), other types of accommodations, not requiring the use of a personal attendant, may also be granted if, in the opinion of the committee, they provide a reasonable alternative method of complying with the spirit of the rules (e.g., holding the bag to one side and turning the player's head to the other side, averting the player's eyes from the bag).

Players requesting these accommodations should apply to the Tournament Committee, which grants accommodations that must be honored at all NASPA-sanctioned events. Additionally, the player must contact the director in advance of the tournament to inform the director of any special needs or accommodations. Some accommodations can also be granted by tournament directors under Rule III.A.7. on a case-by-case basis.

Directors have access to a list of accommodations granted by the Tournament Committee. The chair of the TC can add to this list through Member Services.

Tutorial for Visually Impaired Players

Chad M. Bouton has developed a beginner's tutorial for Scrabble aimed at visually impaired players. You can play it here.

Accommodation for religious reasons

A player who is unable for religious reasons to perform all of the physical functions required in a tournament game of Scrabble (e.g., Orthodox Jews who are unable to operate the clock or write during the sabbath) MUST contact the director of the tournament in advance for approval of an accommodation during the period when such actions are proscribed. These alternate methods may only be used for games during the period of proscription (e.g., the Sabbath), not throughout the entire tournament. In addition to the following, a manual word judge or other word judging alternative may be used, if required to accommodate the player's religious proscription.

Writing Accommodation

  • Score keeping: player uses two bookmarks in a book and moves them to represent each player’s score.The book used must be approved by the director (e.g., “Dr Spock’s Baby and Child Care” is acceptable, but using OSPD4 or the OWL is not).
  • Blank designation: use a separate set of scrabble tiles (clearly different from those used in the game) and present one of those tiles to the opponent as the blank designation.
  • Tracking may also be done with this separate set of tiles.
  • Player may ask a director to complete the result slip or Contestant Score Card based on the player's affirmation of the results.

Scorekeeper Accommodation

  • Have a designated scorekeeper for the player.
  • The scorekeeper’s role is solely to record the scores, record the blank, write out challenge slips, and operate the clock for the player.
  • The player requesting this accommodation must provide his/her own scorekeeper and the director must approve the person.

Mechanical Clock Accommodation

  • A player who may not use an electronic clock may use a non-electric, analogue clock.
  • The player requesting this accommodation must provide his/her own clock and this clock must meet the requirements of Rule III.A.3. (without regard to order of preference).