Though sets of colorful building bricks made of plastic can usually keep the kids entertained for hours at home, Lego is also used in the classroom. The Lego Foundation and the Lego Group have now unveiled some special bricks aimed at helping blind kids to learn braille through play.
The Sustainable Brands Conference has opened its doors in Paris, France, this week, and the Lego Foundation and the Lego Group have today unveiled a new project – Lego Braille Bricks. First suggested to the Foundation in 2011 by the Danish Association of the Blind, and again proposed in 2017 by Brazil's Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, the first prototypes are now being tested in Denmark, Brazil, the UK and Norway. The American Printing House for the Blind will help roll out project test kits to select schools in the US starting September.
"With thousands of audiobooks and computer programs now available, fewer kids are learning to read Braille," said the European Blind Union's Philippe Chazal. "This is particularly critical when we know that Braille users often are more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment opportunities."
The Lego Braille Bricks project is designed to give blind and visually-impaired children the opportunity to learn Braille in a fun and engaging way.
Standard Lego bricks are topped with a number of studs to allow them to be connected together to form whatever creation the builder comes up with. The studs on the Braille Bricks put those studs to better use, with each brick home to studs laid out like individual letters and numbers from the Braille alphabet, while still being compatible with Lego's System in Play.
Each brick also has a printed letter or character on top to allow sighted adults and children to play and learn along with blind students. And the system supports different languages too, with the current iteration available in Danish, Norwegian, English and Portuguese. German, Spanish and French Braille Bricks are due to follow in Q3 of this year.
The final version of the Lego Braille Bricks kit will contain around 250 bricks in five colors, which cover the full Braille alphabet, number 0-9 and a few math symbols. It will be distributed free of charge in 2020 to select institutions.
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