The LEGO Foundation and the LEGO Group have detailed the official launch of LEGO Braille Bricks in seven countries, including France, Germany, the UK, and the US, following the success of a pilot programme that was launched in April last year.
The initiative was first introduced during the Sustainable Brands Conference in Paris in April 2019, chosen for being the home of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille system. Since then, the concept has been tested across various languages and cultural contexts. It is now 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. The ambition is for the concept to be implemented in a total of eleven languages across 20 countries by early 2021.
LEGO Braille 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,” said 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.”
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.
All of the materials are available at www.LEGObraillebricks.com, a dedicated website that offers inspiration for pre-braille and braille activities to promote Learning through Play.
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 – LEGO Braille Bricks Community.
“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.”
As LEGO Braille Bricks toolkits launch in each respective country, they will be distributed free of charge to select institutions, schools and services catering to the education of children with visual impairment.
Each kit will contain over 300 LEGO Braille Bricks covering the full alphabet in the chosen language, numbers 0-9, and select mathematical symbols and punctuation marks.
“We are thrilled to launch the first wave of the LEGO Braille Bricks program and get the tool kits into the hands of children,” added Stine Storm, Senior Play & Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation.
“Throughout the testing and pilot program, we have received overwhelming support and positive feedback from children, parents, teachers and partner organizations who have experienced the LEGO Braille Bricks and see the potential of these toolkits to encourage learning in a new and exciting way.
“The possibilities for learning through play are endless, and we look forward to seeing how this can inspire children in their journey to learn braille.”