May 2, 2019
The LEGO Foundation and LEGO Group have announced the launch of a pioneering project that will help blind and visually impaired children to learn Braille in a playful and engaging way using Braille-customized LEGO bricks. The project, LEGO Braille Bricks, was launched on April 24 at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris, France.
The concept behind LEGO Braille Bricks was first proposed to the LEGO Foundation in 2011 by the Danish Association of the Blind and again in 2017 by the Brazilian-based Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind. It has since been further shaped in close collaboration among blind associations from Denmark, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Norway—and the first prototypes are now in those same countries for concept testing.
“With thousands of audiobooks and computer programs now available, fewer kids are learning to read Braille,” said Philippe Chazal, Treasurer of the European Blind Union, in a formal release.“This is particularly critical when we know that Braille users often are more independent, [and] have a higher level of education and better employment opportunities. We strongly believe LEGO Braille Bricks can help boost the level of interest in learning Braille, so we’re thrilled that the LEGO Foundation is making it possible to further this concept and bring it to children around the world.”
To ensure that the tool is inclusive—enabling sighted teachers, students, and family members to interact on equal terms—each brick will also feature a printed letter or character.
The need is well-established: The World Health Organization estimates that, on a global level, 19 million children are vision-impaired. Of these, about 1.4 million children have irreversible blindness.
The product currently is being tested in several languages—Danish, Norwegian, English, and Portuguese—while German, Spanish and French will be tested in Q3 2019.
The final LEGO Braille Bricks kit is expected to launch in 2020 and will be distributed free-of-charge to select institutions through participating partner networks in the markets where testing is being carried out with partners. It will contain approximately 250 LEGO Braille Bricks covering the full alphabet, numbers 0-9, select math symbols, and inspiration for teaching and interactive games.
Research contact: @LEGO_Group