[NFBMO] Lego releases Braille bricks to teach blind and visually impaired children

Randy C randycarmack at gmail.com
Wed Apr 24 19:48:49 UTC 2019


( Sent from KMOV News )

Lego has unveiled a new project aimed at helping blind and visually
impaired children learn Braille in a "playful and engaging way." Lego
Braille Bricks, a concept originally proposed to the toy company by two
charities, will allow children to learn the touch writing system through

The bricks, which will launch fully in 2020, feature the studs used for
characters in the Braille alphabet, as well as printed characters allowing
sighted people to read the bricks. They will be "fully compatible" with
existing Lego bricks, the company said in a press release.

The Danish Association of the Blind suggested the concept to the Lego
Foundation in 2011, while the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, based
in Brazil, proposed the bricks in 2017.

A spokesperson for Lego told CNN that the company had gone on to develop
prototypes with both organizations, as well as the British charities
Leonard Cheshire and Royal National Institute of Blind People, and the
Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted.

The final set will comprise approximately 250 bricks, covering the complete
Braille alphabet, numbers from zero to nine, math symbols, as well as
"inspiration for teaching and interactive games."

Braille Bricks are currently undergoing testing in schools in Portuguese,
Danish, English and Norwegian, while Spanish, French and German versions
will be tested later this year.

They will ultimately be distributed free of charge to institutions through
the partner organisations.

Philippe Chazal, treasurer of the European Blind Union, said in a
statement: "With thousands of audiobooks and computer programs now
available, fewer kids are learning to read Braille."

"This is particularly critical when we know that Braille users often are
more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment
opportunities," Chazal continued. "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."

Only 10% of visually impaired children in the US are now learning to read
Braille, a 2009 study
<https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/pdf/braille_literacy_report_web.pdf> from
the National Federation of the Blind found. According to the Royal National
Institute of Blind People (RNIB), 1,077 children in England were learning
Braille in 2017, out of an estimated 21,900 visually impaired children in
the country -- just under 5%. However, the real figure is likely to be
higher, an RNIB spokesperson explained, as there is no official register
for Braille learners.

David Clarke, director of services at the RNIB, said in a statement that
the bricks would "improve education for children with vision impairment and
encourage inclusion."

"Thanks to this innovation, children with vision impairment will be able to
learn braille and interact with their friends and classmates in a fun way,
using play to encourage creativity while learning to read and write,"
Clarke added.

Morten Bonde, the senior art director for the Lego Group who is losing his
sight to a genetic eye disorder, said in a statement: "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."

"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," Bonde said

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