Lego Teaches Kids Braille with New Play Blocks
In the US, only an estimated 8.4% of visually impaired children are learning to read Braille, compared to more than 50% in the 50s (American Printing House for the Blind, 2016). To help boost this figure, Lego is releasing play bricks that are moulded with the dot formations of the Braille alphabet.
The toy maker has worked with associations for the blind in Denmark, Norway, Brazil, and the UK to create a modified version of its iconic building blocks (launching 2020). The new bricks can be enjoyed by visually impaired children and help them learn Braille.
The bricks feature the same number of dots used for letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet. Just like a classic Lego brick, the Braille dots are configured in a rectangular six-point grid to form the outward joining dots, meaning the Braille Bricks can be used in tandem with Lego’s wider collection.
The company wants the bricks to be enjoyed by sighted children, too. Each block features a written symbol for the letter expressed in Braille, and numbers zero to nine are written alongside the first nine letters (the Braille symbol is the same for letters and numbers).
Braille literacy has waned due to the influx of audiobooks and audio-based computer programs. According to Philippe Chazal, treasurer of the European Blind Union, this reliance on technology reduces a person’s ability to look after oneself and engage with text and academic studies. “Braille users often are more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment,” said Chazal.
For more on how the push for accessibility is steering applause-worthy innovations in product packaging, see The Human-Centric Approach and Designing Inclusively: August’s Best Mixed-Ability Packaging. For the latest trends in youth product, read our Product Design Visual Round-Up: Toys & Kids’ Interiors.