Less than 10% of blind students today are Braille readers, despite the common misconception that everyone who is blind knows Braille. To combat the Braille literacy crisis, Lego has put the recommendations of two advocacy groups into action and is testing the concept of Lego Braille Bricks, Lego announced.
Braille Bricks will aim to help children who are blind or have visual impairments learn Braille while having fun. The Lego Foundation and Lego Group made the announcement on April 24 at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris.
Each block will contain individual letters and numbers in Braille, with the raised studs remaining compatible with other Lego blocks. Each block will also have the number or letter printed on it so those who are sighted and don't know Braille can play, teach, and interact.
The concept is currently being tested in Denmark, Brazil, UK, and Norway in Danish, Norwegian, English, and Portuguese. Lego Braille Bricks are expected to be fully-available in 2020. The idea was pitched to the Lego Foundation by the Danish Association of the Blind and the Brazilian-based Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, in 2011 and 2017 respectively.
Many people are placing the emphasis on audio books and screen reading technology at the center of the decline in Braille being taught on a wider scale. Philippe Chazal, Treasurer of the European Blind Union, said, "This is particularly critical when we know that Braille users often are more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment opportunities."
The full kit will contain about 250 Lego Braille Bricks when complete.
“Blind and visually impaired children have dreams and aspirations for their future just as sighted children,” said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation. “They have the same desire and need to explore the world and socialise through play, but often face involuntary isolation as a consequence of exclusion from activities. In the LEGO Foundation, we believe children learn best through play and in turn develop the breadth of skills, such as creativity, collaboration and communication, that they need in the post 4th Industrial Revolution. With this project, we are bringing a playful and inclusive approach to learning Braille to children. I hope children, parents, caregivers, teachers and practitioners worldwide will be as excited as we are, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact."
It sometimes comes as a surprise that Braille is important in digital accessibility, too. Web content must be built to be compatible with devices like refreshable Braille displays. Talk to us to learn how we can help with your digital accessibility initiatives, or get started with a free website accessibility scan.