LEGO Braille Bricks make their way down under
6 February 2021 at 8:00 am
“This new toy normalises braille and allows sighted kids and those who are blind or have low vision to play together”
School kids will be able to get creative while also building their braille skills with the launch of LEGO Braille Bricks in Australia.
The bricks are designed to help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system, with the bricks moulded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the braille alphabet.
They were unveiled in seven countries in September last year, but are being brought to Australia thanks to a partnership between Vision Australia and the LEGO Foundation.
These bricks also feature printed letters, numbers and symbols so that they can be used simultaneously by everyone in a collaborative and inclusive way.
LEGO Braille education ambassador Melissa Fanshawe – whose 14-year-old son Ollie has low vision – said this means children like her son can learn and play alongside sighted classmates, family members and educators.
“This new toy normalises braille and allows sighted kids and those who are blind or have low vision to play together and it allows kids with vision impairment to learn while they play, and that is something that sighted kids take for granted,” Fanshawe said.
Fanshawe is trained as a teacher of the vision impaired and said LEGO was a fun way to teach children braille skills.
She said while sighted children start to develop pre-literacy skills by seeing letters and words all around them on signs and menus, vision-impaired children do not have this opportunity.
“If you don’t have sight and you are just listening to words via technology you can’t hear how things are spelled,” she said.
“But it is important to be able to spell things properly because sighted people expect things in a well written, well punctuated format so these are key things, particularly homophones… that sound the same but are spelled differently.”
Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton said the charity was proud to partner with LEGO and become the only distributor of braille bricks in Australia.
He said inclusive education was something Vision Australia advocated for and the bricks were a great way for this to be achieved.
“We’re extremely excited to partner with the LEGO Foundation to bring LEGO Braille Bricks to Australia and we can’t wait to start getting it in the hands of children who are blind or have low vision across Australia,” Hooton said.
“Not only will LEGO Braille Bricks be a revolutionary educational tool for them, it’s also a great way for families and other children to learn more about braille and its importance.”
LEGO Braille Bricks will be offered to schools or other education institutions that have students who are vision-impaired and learning braille. They will not be available for sale to the general public.
You can find out more about the braille bricks here.