By Allison Watkinson
The LEGO Group is launching a LEGO Braille Bricks set in partnership with World Blind Union and Be My Eyes.
Developed and tested in close collaboration with blind organizations from around the world, the LEGO Braille Bricks Play with Braille set includes 287 bricks in white, yellow, green, red and blue. The studs on each brick are arranged to correspond to the numbers and letters in the braille system, with a printed language version of the symbol or letter located below the studs.
All of the LEGO Braille Bricks are fully compatible with other LEGO products.
“For blind and partially sighted children, and adults for that matter, it makes all the difference if they can share their journey of learning braille with the people they love the most,” said World Blind Union president, Martine Abel-Williamson. “For the blind community, braille is not just literacy, it’s our entry to independence and inclusion into this world, and to have LEGO Braille Bricks made available for the wider public is a massive step forward to ensuring more children will want to learn braille in the first place. And because it’s based on a product that so many families already know and love, this is really an invitation for all family members to have fun building tactile skills and getting familiar with braille using the same tool.”
Prior to this announcement, LEGO Braille Bricks had only been available through free distribution by the LEGO Foundation to select institutions, schools and services that specialize in the education of children with vision impairment.
“Play has the power to change lives; when children play, they learn vital life-long skills, so we were thrilled by the reception that LEGO Braille Bricks received in educational settings,” said LEGO Group designer, Rasmus Løgstrup. “We’ve been inundated with thousands of requests to make them more widely available, so we just knew we had to make it happen! It’s been a fantastic journey collaborating with children, families and experts from around the world to develop the product and online activity packs. Our partners have been instrumental also in advising on what colourways should be used for the bricks, product packaging and digital experiences to ensure this is optimised for individuals who experience low vision and vision loss,” added Løgstrup. “We know this is a strong platform for social inclusion, and can’t wait to see families get creative and have fun playing with braille together.”
The LEGO Group has also partnered with the free mobile app Be My Eyes. The free mobile app connects blind and partially-sighted people with sighted volunteers and company representatives to help with everyday tasks through live video calls.
As part of the partnership, LEGO Customer Service employees will provide confidential visual assistance through the Be My Eyes app to support customers on a wide range of topics relating to LEGObranded products.
“The fact that the LEGO Group is investing in inclusion is huge because so many people in the blind and low vision community already love and enjoy LEGO products,” said Be My Eyes CEO, Mike Buckley. “Be My Eyes is incredibly honored to partner with the LEGO Group to enable and inspire the creativity of blind and low vision builders across the globe.”
The LEGO Group has also announced that LEGO Audio & Braille Building Instructions will become a permanent offering. Co-developed by entrepreneur Matthew Shifrin, the LEGO Audio & Braille Building Instructions give customers the option of having select LEGO building instructions available in audio or braille text format.
The LEGO Foundation will continue to distribute LEGO Braille Bricks educational kits free of charge through national blindness associations partners and other partner organizations.
The LEGO Braille Bricks Play with Braille set is currently available for pre-order in English and French ahead of its official launch on September 1st 2023. In early 2024, the set will also be available in Italian, German and Spanish versions.
By Allison Watkinson