A significant milestone in the development of more inclusive learning through play has been reached.
Ahead of World Blind Awareness Month this October and in response to global demand, The LEGO Group has released LEGO Braille Bricks, which are now available to purchase online for the first time. LEGO Braille Bricks — Play with Braille is aimed at kids ages 6 and up and has been designed so that anyone who is curious about braille, whether they are blind, partially-sighted, or sighted, can have fun getting to know the braille system in a playful, inclusive way.
The set comes with 287 bricks in five colors: white, yellow, green, red, and blue. All of the bricks are fully compatible with other LEGO products and the studs on each brick are arranged to correspond to the numbers and letters in the braille system, with the printed version of the symbol or letter situated below the studs.
“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,” says Martine Abel-Williamson, President of World Blind Union. “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.”
The set also includes two baseplates to build on and comes in packaging with braille embossing. To enhance the play experience and support pre-braille skill development, a series of supporting play starters are available on lego.com and will teach players how to orient, attach, and stack the bricks through well-loved games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Until now, LEGO braille bricks have only been distributed free of charge by the LEGO Foundation to organizations specializing in the education of children with vision impairment. Since the launch of these kits in 2020, there has been plenty of positive feedback from parents, caregivers, grandparents, children, and educators. This overwhelming response led LEGO to give families the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of braille bricks at home.
“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,” says Rasmus Løgstrup, The LEGO Group Lead Designer for Braille Bricks. “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 colorways should be used for the bricks, product packaging, and digital experiences to ensure this is optimized for individuals who experience low vision and vision loss. 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, which connects blind and partially-sighted people with companies to help with everyday tasks through a live video call. LEGO Customer Service colleagues will provide confidential, live visual assistance through the app covering support from a wide range of topics from unboxing to general product support.
“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,” says Mike Buckley, Chairman and CEO of Be My Eyes. “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.”
Furthermore, LEGO audio and braille building instructions will now become a permanent offering. Inspired and co-developed by entrepreneur Matthew Shifrin, who is blind, this experience gives builders the option of having select LEGO building instructions available as audio or text for braille readers.
LEGO Braille Bricks — Play with Braille ($89.99) is now available for preorder in English and French versions ahead of the Sept. 1 launch. In early 2024, the set will also be available in Italian, German, and Spanish versions.