This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.
The ingenious idea of using the studs on top of Lego bricks to spell out words in braille has been around for some years now, originally spearheaded by ad agency Lew’LaraTBWA for the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind in Brazil.
Now, finally, they’re available in seven countries: the UK, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and the USA. After that, they’ll be rolled out to a total of twenty countries over the next six months.
Currently, there are six languages: English, Danish, Norwegian, Portuguese, German and French. Four more will arrive in the next half-year, with eleven by early 2021.
Here’s how they work:
“Lego Braille Bricks introduces a fun and engaging way to help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system. The bricks are moulded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet while remaining fully compatible with the LEGO System in Play.
The bricks also feature printed letters, numbers and symbols so that they can be used simultaneously by sighted peers, classmates, and teachers in a collaborative and inclusive way.”
The Royal National Institute of Blind People worked with Lego on the range in the UK, and Director of Services David Clarke had this to say:
“With these Braille Bricks, the LEGO Foundation has created a totally new and engaging way for children with vision impairment to learn to read and write.
Braille is an important tool, particularly for young people with vision impairment, and these cleverly designed bricks enable children to learn braille creatively while also engaging with their classmates in a fun and interactive way.”
The Lego Group has opened a new website at LegoBrailleBricks.com to offer teaching materials and guidance for how to use the bricks for learning through play. The company will also work with teachers who educate visually-impaired children to improve and develop the idea – there’s even a Facebook group for teachers to share ideas.
This isn’t a big money grab by Lego, by the way. Kits of more than 300 bricks, including all the letters of the alphabet in the relevant language plus symbols and numbers will be handed out free to schools and other educational organisations for visually impaired kids. Aww. [Brickset]