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LEGO bridges play, learning, and inclusivity with its innovative braille bricks
‘LEGO Braille Bricks – Play with Braille’ by the LEGO Group
Image: Courtesy of LEGO

LEGO bridges play, learning, and inclusivity with its innovative braille bricks

Following an overwhelming worldwide response, the LEGO Group unveils the ‘LEGO® Braille Bricks – Play with Braille’ set that makes learning the braille system inclusive and fun.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Sep 11, 2023

In a world as diverse as ours, the language of acceptance and inclusivity builds bridges of harmony. As we attempt to adapt to literal and figurative structures that are barrier-free, the notion that different needs necessitate limited access to experiences is debunked—one effort at a time. As an inclusive approach trickles into all strata of life and learning, why should play experiences be discounted?

Marking a significant stride towards the development of inclusive learning, leading toy manufacturer LEGO Group unveils the ‘LEGO Braille Bricks – Play with Braille’ set. Preceding the World Blind Awareness Month this October, the Denmark-based brand’s new product design amalgamates learning braille with play—making it accessible to all. The set, for children aged six and above, is designed to allow anyone curious about braille—be they blind, partially sighted or sighted—to understand the braille system at home in a fun and inclusive way.

“For blind and partially sighted children, and adults for that matter, it makes all the difference if they can share their journey of learning braille with the people they love the most. For the blind community, braille is not just literacy, it’s our entry to independence and inclusion into this world, and to have 'LEGO Braille Bricks' made available for the wider public is a massive step forward to ensuring more children will want to learn braille in the first place,” says Martine Abel-Williamson, President, World Blind Union.

Before their recent launch as a purchasable product, 'LEGO Braille Bricks' has only been distributed free of charge by the LEGO Foundation to organisations working intensively for the education of children with vision impairments. The launch of these educational kits in 2020 was met with torrents of positive feedback from parents, carers, grandparents, children, and educators from the world over—highlighting how the bricks redefine the way one can learn braille. After receiving a response as overwhelming as that, the creation of ‘LEGO Braille Bricks - Play with Braille’ was only imminent—presenting the unique opportunity to practise tactile skills and enjoy the benefits with loved ones at home.

“We have primarily been inspired by insights shared through conversations with blind and vision-impaired children and their families. The big question has always been how to make a set which is equally optimised for sighted, blind and partially sighted people,” shares Rasmus Løgstrup, LEGO Group's lead designer.

‘LEGO Braille Bricks – Play with Braille’ comprises 287 bricks in five colours: white, yellow, green, red and blue. All bricks are compatible with other LEGO products and the arrangement of the studs on each brick corresponds to the numbers and letters in the braille system, with the printed version of the symbol or letter placed below the studs. The set also includes two baseplates to build on and comes in packaging with braille embossing. To further complement the play experience and support pre-braille skill development, a series of supporting play starters teach players how to orient, attach, and stack the bricks through popular games such as 'Rock, Paper, Scissors.'

“Our focus has been around playing with braille, and how we could create a product that would spark curiosity for all family members to learn braille in the first place, and give them a platform for social inclusion and fun family moments while building pre-braille skills,” shares Løgstrup. “We have had to work closely with children, their families and experts in the field, to truly understand how we could best optimise for blind and vision impaired children on all parameters across packaging, bricks, online play starters, and communications,” the product designer continues.

Commited to making play experiences more inclusive, the LEGO Group also partners with Be My Eyes, a popular application that connects blind and partially sighted people with sighted volunteers or company representatives. “The fact that the LEGO Group is investing in inclusion is huge because so many people in the blind and low vision community already love and enjoy LEGO products,” says Mike Buckley, chairman and CEO of Be My Eyes. Furthermore, the LEGO Group announces that LEGO Audio & Braille Building Instructions will now become a permanent offering. Inspired and co-developed by entrepreneur Matthew Shifrin (himself visually impaired), this experience provides builders with the option of having select LEGO building instructions available as audio or text for braille readers. Available currently in English and French versions, the set will expand further in other languages such as Italian, German, and Spanish by early 2024. The LEGO Foundation’s research and partnership with national blindness associations and other organisations will continue and evolve even further.

‘LEGO Braille Bricks – Play with Braille’ connotes how an act as simple and seemingly frivolous as that of play has the power to impact lives, teach life-long skills, educate, and most importantly, include. This journey of achieving accessibility is unique since it does not differentiate between abilities, and devises an activity that brings everyone together to learn and support—making those with special needs feel important without being isolated.

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