The Lego Foundation and the Lego Group have announced the official launch of 'LEGO Braille Bricks' in seven countries, including Denmark, Norway, Germany, UK, France, Brazil and the USA.
Pilot Project in Paris
The program was first unveiled as a pilot project in April 2019 during the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris, France.
Lego Braille Bricks introduces an engaging way to help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system.
The bricks are moulded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet while remaining fully compatible with the Lego System in Play. The bricks also feature printed letters, numbers and symbols so that they can be used simultaneously by sighted peers, classmates and teachers in a collaborative and inclusive way.
“With these Braille Bricks, the Lego Foundation has created a totally new and engaging way for children with vision impairment to learn to read and write,” says David Clarke, Director of Services at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which worked with the LEGO Foundation to develop and test the bricks in the UK. “Braille is an important tool, particularly for young people with vision impairment, and these cleverly designed bricks enable children to learn braille creatively while also engaging with their classmates in a fun and interactive way.”
Since then, the concept has been tested across various languages and cultural contexts and is ready to launch in six languages, including Danish, Norwegian, English, Portuguese, German and French.
Four additional language versions will launch over the next six months, with the ambition that the concept will be implemented in a total of eleven languages across twenty countries by early 2021.
The LEGO Braille Bricks toolkit is accompanied by a pedagogical concept that is based on Learning through Play and includes inspiration for brick-based activities to enhance learning and skill-development.
Each kit will contain 300+ bricks covering the full alphabet in the chosen language, numbers 0-9, and select mathematical symbols and punctuation marks. It will be available in five Lego colours and will also include three base plates and a brick separator.
The concept behind Lego Braille Bricks was first proposed to the Lego Foundation in 2011 by the Danish Association of the Blind and again in 2017 by the Brazilian-based Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind.
Since then there has been close collaboration with Blind communities in Denmark, Brazil, UK, Norway, Germany, France and USA, where testing was conducted in two waves over the course of nearly two years. The first wave of Lego Braille Bricks is now being launched in those countries and are set to launch in 13 additional countries in early 2021, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Close Collaboration with Teachers
The Lego Foundation also plans to work with teachers of the visually impaired to continue to develop the Lego Braille Bricks concept and is calling on teachers to submit more ideas to continuously expand the pool of activities.
This interaction will be facilitated online in a Facebook group called "Lego Braille Bricks Community", where teachers can meet to share best practices, creative ideas and playful experiences with the product.
“As an educator, I know Lego Braille Bricks will be so helpful in bringing together different kinds of learners,” said Paige Maynard, Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Developmental Interventionist at Visually Impaired Preschool Services in Louisville, KY.
“Students with visual impairments will be able to play and learn alongside their sighted peers. The bricks bring the joy of play into braille and tactile skills instruction. They help remind us that the most impactful and long-lasting learning occurs when children are actively engaged in activities they enjoy,” Maynard added.
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