Lego is set to release a new line of toy blocks specifically designed for blind children and those with visual impairments.
The Danish toy maker announced on Wednesday that its upcoming Lego Braille Bricks will feature studs molded with letters and numbers to allow Braille readers to identify the different pieces that they are playing with.
The new toy blocks are designed to be inclusive, which means parents, teachers, and even other students who can see can still use the pieces to interact with visually challenged children.
The company said its Braille Bricks will be fully compatible with other Lego products already available in the market.
New Lego Braille Bricks
John Goodwin, chief executive of the Lego Foundation, explained the toy maker's goal for the new blocks.
He said blind and visually impaired children also have their own dreams and aspirations for their future just like children who can see. They want to explore the world and interact with other people through play. However, many of these children are left out from certain activities because of their condition.
Goodwin believes the Lego Braille Bricks will provide a playful and inclusive way for children to learn Braille.
He hopes that parents, teachers, caregivers, and practitioners around the world will be as excited about the new toy blocks as they are.
Morten Bonde, senior art director at Lego, served as a consultant during the creation of the Braille Bricks. He has been diagnosed with a genetic eye disorder that is slowly taking his eyesight.
Bonde said seeing the reactions from students and teachers regarding the new Lego toys was inspiring to him. It reminded him that the only limitations that he will encounter in life are the ones the he create in his mind.
He pointed out that the interest and level of engagement the children experienced was evident, especially in being independent and included on equal terms with other people their age.
"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.
The new Lego Braille Bricks are now being trialled in Danish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and English at schools and other institutions. The full kit will become available by 2020.
Importance Of Braille
Braille continues to be a vital mode of instruction for many children suffering from blindness and visual impairment. More than 150 million people all over the world use the system for several different reasons, according to the British organization Royal Blind.
One of the most important benefits of Braille is its ability to facilitate effective learning for the visually challenged. It allows users to understand spelling and punctuation, and even how text are formatted on a page.
Royal Blind said previous studies have shown that people who can read Braille have higher literacy rates on average compared to those that do not know the system.
The skill can also lead to a better chance of securing a job for blind and visually impaired professionals.
Technology is also helping make Braille more accessible and portable for users. Several Braille notetakers, refreshable displays, and transcription software have been developed to help people process their daily tasks.