LEGOs are a staple of childhood learning and creativity. Whether one chooses to follow the instructions or set out into the building unknown, these blocks are as stimulating to the brain as they are painful to the unsuspecting foot. The tactile nature of the blocks, which fit into one another with little raised prongs, is ideal for accessibility. LEGO Braille Blocks—sets that the LEGO Foundation began distributing to schools for the blind several years ago—are now succeeded by the first model of braille bricks available for public purchase. This $89.99 set can be pre-ordered now and starts shipping on September 1, 2023.
The set comes with 287 colorful pieces, and is considered appropriate for ages six and up—the same time that most children start reading and basic math. Each of the block's “studs…correspond to numbers and letters in the braille code.” Letters and numbers are also printed in Roman type on the blocks. Additionally, two base plates are included in the box to anchor children's creations, and all of the included pieces can be mixed and matched with other LEGO sets. A corresponding webpage of activities helps children and families get creative together. Other ideas can be found on the main page of LEGO Braille Bricks.
Learning braille is an important skill, even in an era of evolving text-to-word technology. It can promote independence and better employment opportunities, among other things, according to the European Blind Union (EBU). The LEGO blocks give families and schoolfriends a chance to learn braille alongside blind and visually impaired children. Lisa Taylor, whose seven-year-old daughter Olivia lost her sight as an infant, explained the impact these LEGOs have had on their ability to communicate as a family: “To have a set at home changes everything. We can play with braille together as a family and she can introduce braille to her little sister in a way they both love. LEGO Braille Bricks are accessible for her without being really different from other kids, so she gets to play and learn just like every other child.”
Additionally, time spent reading, spelling, adding, and subtracting is additional practice of these valuable skills. Rasmus Løgstrup, The Lego Group lead designer of braille bricks, described how the company was “inundated with thousands of requests to make [the bricks] more widely available.” He added, “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.”