by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:
In the spirit of its credo of “learning through play,” the toymaker LEGO is selling braille-inscribed LEGO bricks directly to the public for the first time. Since 2020 the special bricks have been available exclusively to institutions and schools for children who are visually impaired. Beginning today, September 1, 2023, the company is releasing LEGO® Braille Bricks – Play with Braille to the broader consumer market. The product is available in English and French with additional languages coming next year. Kids ages six and older, whether they are blind, have low vision, or sighted, are the target audience, but LEGO says that the bricks are “designed so that anyone “can have fun getting to know the braille system at home with their family members in a playful, inclusive way.” Bricks come in five colors: white, yellow, green, red, and blue. All are 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 below the studs. The Braille Bricks were developed by the LEGO Foundation, the LEGO Group, and partners from the international blind and educational communities. Martine Abel-Williamson, President, World Blind Union, remarks: “For the blind community, braille is not just literacy, it’s our entry to independence and inclusion into this world,” adding that “…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 product may be purchased for $89.99. Read more in the news release about Bringing Braille Fun Home: LEGO® Braille Bricks on Sale for the First Time. The LEGO webpage Introducing LEGO® Braille Bricks also features instructions about how to use the braille blocks learning kit, including ideas for Pre-braille and Braille activities, along with a link to a Community BLOG for professionals. Information is also available from LEGO Foundation partner, The American Printing House for the Blind at their webpage on LEGO® Braille Bricks: fun, interactive learning through play.