Last year, the LEGO Foundation revealed Braille Bricks, a tool to “help children with vision impairment learn critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration through play.” Today, they are announcing that the bricks are being officially launched in Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, the UK and the US after a successful pilot and testing program. The toolkits will be distributed free of charge to select institutions and schools serving the needs of children with visual impairments. Training and teaching supplements are available to everyone at LEGObraillebricks.com.
LEGO Braille Bricks are molded so that the studs on top represent individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet. They are also printed with the letters and numbers so they can be used in a collaborative and inclusive way with sighted peers. The LEGO Foundation will launch Braille Bricks in an additional 13 additional countries in early 2021, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
Read the official Braille Bricks announcement from LEGO and see an expanded gallery of photos.
Today, LEGO announced a key step in further opening its play experiences to builders with visual impairments, as the company is beginning trials of a new system to aid those with visual disabilities in following LEGO instructions. Called LEGO Audio & Braille Building Instructions, the system uses AI to pair digital traditional-style visual instructions with verbal or tactile Braille directions, and was developed in collaboration with life-long LEGO fan Matthew Shifrin, who is blind. Matthew has been creating his own accessible instructions for years, which are available for free on legofortheblind.com. Similarly, the official instructions created by the new AI-driven program will be available for free from legoaudioinstructions.com. Still in an early trial phase, the system only supports a handful of sets at present while the development team seeks feedback from users. The team then plans to implement the feedback and add more sets in the first half of 2020, with an eventual goal of supporting all new LEGO product launches.
In a separate initiative to create greater accessibility for their products, earlier this year LEGO announced the production of Braille Bricks, a collection of 63 new elements that feature LEGO studs arranged as Braille dots. Developed by The LEGO Foundation, the sets aim to aid in teaching visually impaired children how to read, by making arranging letters and words both easy and fun. Each set contains about 250 bricks in five colors, spread across the alphabet, along with numbers and a few important symbols. The sets will be available in a variety of languages and will be provided for free to visually impaired students through a network of schools around the world. It’s unclear if The LEGO Foundation has any plans to make the Braille Bricks available outside of the school program.
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