LEGO is introducing Braille bricks to help children with visual impairments.
According to Philippe Chazal, Treasurer of the European Blind Union, children born without full sight are increasingly failing to learn Braille. Computers and modern technology are allowing blind people to get by without learning the tactile reading system introduced way back in 1824 despite the fact that studies have shown blind people who learn Braille go on to be more successful in life.
And now, after years of associations for the blind petitioning LEGO to help, the Danish toy manufacturer is going to use their power for the good of all blind people.
Honestly, LEGO bricks are perfect for learning Braille. Each 8x8 brick could easily be converted to only have studs where they’d appear in the Braille alphabet, and that’s exactly what LEGO has done with their new pilot project: LEGO Braille Bricks.
Each set of Braille Bricks contains 250 bricks that span the entire Braille alphabet, numbers 1 through 9, and even a few mathematical symbols--because Braille should teach kids the language of math as well as English.
Or in this case, English, Portuguese, Danish, and Norwegian. Pilot tests are currently operating in each of those four nations, while German, Spanish, and French testing will begin in the third quarter of 2019.
In addition, sighted kids can also learn Braille with the help of printed letters and numbers on each brick.
This is an especially important project for LEGO Group Senior Art Director Morten Bonde. Born with a genetic eye disorder, he is slowly losing his sight and will eventually go completely blind.
“Experiencing reactions from both students and teachers to LEGO Braille Bricks has been hugely inspirational and reminded me that the only limitations I will meet in life are those I create in my mind,” Bonde said in a statement. “The children’s level of engagement and their interest in being independent and included on equal terms in society is so evident. I am moved to see the impact this product has on developing blind and visually impaired children’s academic confidence and curiosity already in its infant days.”
LEGO Braille Bricks is planned to launch in early 2020 and will be sent out to select institutions around the world for absolutely zero charge.