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Toy company LEGO is releasing a new set of plastic bricks that aids blind and visually-impaired children in learning Braille / breɪl /.
Braille is a system that allows blind or visually-impaired people to read and write by touching raised dots that represent letters, numbers, mathematical symbols, and other characters.
Instead of dots, the LEGO Braille Bricks have bumps called “studs,” which are normally used to snap Legos together. The custom studs correspond to the different characters of the Braille alphabet. They can be used with older versions of Legos and will come with printed Braille characters so that teachers, family members, and students, who are able to see, can play along.
The concept of the Braille Bricks was proposed to LEGO by the Danish Association of the Blind in 2011 and Brazil’s Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind in 2017. Along with LEGO and other groups, the two organizations developed a prototype of the product.
Currently, schools are testing the first fruits of their collaboration in Danish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and English. Later this year, Spanish, French, and German versions of the LEGO Braille Bricks will undergo testing in schools. The final product is expected to hit the market in 2020, with 250 bricks in one set.
Representatives from associations for the blind have raved over the Braille Bricks. They believe that the product’s creation will spark people’s interest in learning Braille. Additionally, they said that the product can encourage blind and visually-impaired children to learn to read and write Braille while interacting with their classmates in a creative and fun way.