The World Health Organization estimates that 19 million children worldwide are visually impaired, including 1,4 million children with irreversible blindness. The Lego group now wants to develop a new learning method together with associations for the blind - with the help of Lego bricks with Braille. Six dots, arranged in two vertical rows with three dots each, form the basis of Braille according to Louis Braille. The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation, together with various blind associations, have transferred this point pattern onto LEGO bricks. The aim is to further promote learning of the globally recognized Braille with the help of LEGO bricks.
Communication through six points
After completion of the current prototype test phase, the LEGO Group plans to make the LEGO Braille Sets available to blind and visually impaired children free of charge through selected organizations from 2020, as the Danish company announced today at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris, France.
“Fewer and fewer blind or visually impaired children are learning to read and write using Braille. They often use computer programs, audio books and other technical aids. What initially appears to be an advantage can, however, prove to be a disadvantage. Because we know that the people who use Braille are often more independent, more educated and have better prospects for employment. We truly believe that the LEGO Braille Bricks will help increase interest in learning Braille. That's why we're excited that the LEGO Foundation is advancing this concept to bring Braille to children around the world.”Philippe Chazal, French Treasurer of the European Blind Union (EUB)
A LEGO Braille set is expected to contain 250 different LEGO Braille bricks, each of which has an easy-to-touch dot pattern of individual letters, numbers or symbols on the surface. Each set contains the matching stones for the alphabet, numbers from zero to nine and math symbols, among other things. In order to take family members, teachers and other children without visual impairment into account and to enable a shared play and learning experience, the LEGO Braille bricks are also printed with letters or symbols.
“Blind and visually impaired children, just like children without disabilities, have dreams and longings for the future. They share the same desire to explore the world, but often face involuntary isolation. We are certain that children learn best through play, thereby developing important skills such as creativity, teamwork and communication. With this project we are creating a playful and inclusive approach to learning Braille that we hope will delight children, parents, carers, teachers and practitioners worldwide as much as we do.”John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation
Before the respective market launch, the sets go through extensive test phases, currently in Brazil, Denmark, Great Britain and Norway, in order to meet the different linguistic requirements. Germany, France and Spain will follow in the late summer of this year.
Creation of the LEGO Braille bricks
The idea for the LEGO Braille bricks was brought to the LEGO Group by the Danish Association of the Blind in 2011, and the Brazilian Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind was also impressed by the concept in 2017. In close cooperation with other blind associations from Brazil, Denmark, Great Britain and Norway, the innovative LEGO bricks were created, which are intended to facilitate and promote learning of Braille.
Morten Bonde, Senior Art Director at the LEGO Group, knows the difficulties visually impaired people face from his own experience: He suffers from a genetic eye disease that can blind him over time.
“The reactions to the LEGO Braille bricks that we have received from students and teachers during testing so far have been very inspiring. They remind me that the only limitations in life are the ones I set for myself. The commitment of the children and their interest in being independent and integrated into society with equal rights are very present.”Morten Bonde, Senior Art Director at the LEGO Group
He is touched by how blind and visually impaired children can benefit from the LEGO Braille bricks and thus develop important skills and self-confidence for their work and everyday life, Bonde continues.
In collaboration with other thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents, the LEGO Foundation wants to equip, inspire and activate young masters for play.
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