Co-founded by the Dorina Nowill Foundation For The Blind – The Braille Bricks project was set up a few years ago in Brazil to help aid blind children learn to read while having fun.
The idea has since been picked up by LEGO and is being mass marketed on a massive scale — giving the opportunity for thousands of children to learn the touch system through play.
The sets are scheduled to be launched in 2020 and will incorporate both the studs used for characters in the Braille alphabet as well as printed letters so sighted people can also read the bricks.
They will also be “fully compatible” with existing Lego bricks, according to a press release from the company.
“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,” LEGO says. “It has since been further shaped in close collaboration among blind associations from Denmark, Brazil, UK, and Norway and the first prototypes are now in those same countries for concept testing.”
“With thousands of audio books and computer programs now available, fewer kids are learning to read Braille,” said Treasurer of the European Blind Union, 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.”
“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.”
The Braille Bricks will be molded with the exact same number of studs used for individual letter as well as numbers in the Braille alphabet — with the final set having around 250 bricks, covering the complete Braille alphabet, numbers from zero to nine as well as other mathematics symbols.
They are designed to give inspiration for teaching as well as interactive games.
Currently, the product is being tested in Danish, Norwegian, English as well as Portuguese — while German, Spanish and French will soon be tested as well.
LEGO has pledged that the sets will be distributed free of charge to select institutions so as many visually impaired children as possible will be able to play with them.
“Blind and visually impaired children have dreams and aspirations for their future just as sighted children,” said CEO of the LEGO Foundation, John Goodwin. “They have the same desire and need to explore the world and socialize through play, but often face involuntary isolation as a consequence of exclusion from activities.”
“In the LEGO Foundation, we believe children learn best through play and in turn develop the breadth of skills, such as creativity, collaboration and communication, that they need in the post 4th Industrial Revolution. With this project, we are bringing a playful and inclusive approach to learning Braille to children.”
“I hope children, parents, caregivers, teachers and practitioners worldwide will be as excited as we are, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact.”
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