In 2020, Lego will launch Lego Braille Bricks, which are designed to help blind and visually impaired children learn Braille in a “playful and engaging way”.
Braille Bricks will be a set of approximately 250 bricks with studs used for characters for the complete Braille alphabet, numbers zero to nine, math symbols and teaching devices. They will also have printed characters to allow sighted people to read the bricks. They will be fully compatible with existing Lego bricks.
They will be distributed for free to institutions through the partner organizations.
The idea for this project was originally introduced by two charities, the Danish Association of the Blind, who proposed the concept to the Lego Foundation in 2011, and the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, who suggested the bricks in 2017.
Prototypes were developed with both organizations, along with Leonard Cheshire, the Royal National Institute of Blind People and the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted.
A 2009 study from the National Federation of the Blind found that only 10% of visually impaired children in the US are learning to read Braille. In England, that number is less than 5%. A reason for this is the increase of audiobooks and computer programs for visually impaired people. Braille Bricks will improve education for children with vision impairment and encourage inclusion, according to David Clarke, director of services at the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
There are also plans to have multilingual versions of the bricks. Testing is currently being done in schools for Portuguese, Danish, English and Norwegian. Spanish, French and German will be tested later this year.