Building blocks: Lego creates new braille bricks
Published Sunday, April 28, 2019 1:59PM EDT
An undated photo from files showing pieces of Lego. (Thomas Borberg/Polfoto via AP, File) DENMARK OUT
Lego has created a new line of blocks studded with letters and numbers from the braille alphabet to help teach the language to children with visual impairments.
The blocks are set for a full launch in 2020 and will also have printed letters, numbers and symbols which sighted people can use to read. There are 250 bricks as part of Lego’s new line and the company said they will all be fully compatible with Lego’s standard blocks.
Lego will also be partnering with organizations to give out free batches of the blocks to different educational institutions.
“With thousands of audiobooks and computer programs now available, fewer kids are learning to read braille,” said Philippe Chazal, Treasurer of the European Blind Union, said in a Lego press release.
“This is particularly critical when we know that braille users often are more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment opportunities,” he added.
In fact, part of the onus behind the blocks was to help improve employment rates for the visually impaired. According to a January report from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, more than 70 per cent of working-age people who are blind or partially-sighted are unemployed.
But less than 10 per cent of the 830,000 Canadians who are visually impaired can read braille, according to 2009 surveys.
The new blocks were presented at the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris, last week.
Lego plans on rolling out the braille blocks in seven languages. Right now, Portuguese, Danish, English and Norwegian are undergoing testing in schools; while Spanish, French and German will be tested later this year.
There are approximately 19 million people with visual impairments in the world, according to the World Health Organization.