Motivated by stories and ideas from blind people around the world, the Lego Foundation and Lego Group will pilot the grassroots innovation.
The Lego Foundation and Lego Group have announced their support of a pioneering project that will help blind and visually impaired children learn Braille in an engaging way, using Braille customised Lego bricks. The project, Lego Braille Bricks, was unveiled yesterday at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris, France.
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, the concept has been further shaped through close collaboration with blind associations from Denmark, Brazil, UK, and Norway. The product is currently being tested in Danish, Norwegian, English and Portuguese, while German, Spanish and French will be tested in Q3 2019.
Lego Braille Bricks will be moulded with the same number of studs used for individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet, while remaining fully compatible with the Lego System in Play. To ensure inclusivity with sighted peers, each brick will also feature a printed letter or character. This combination aims to get blind and visually impaired children interested in learning Braille, enabling them to develop a breadth of skills needed to thrive and succeed in a fast-paced world.
Lego Group senior art director, Morten Bonde, who suffers from a genetic eye disorder that is gradually turning him blind, worked as an internal consultant on the project. Morten currently has 4-degree sight left but is determined not to let his loss of sight limit him.
He commented: “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. 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.”
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 mathematical symbols, and inspiration for teaching and interactive games.