LEGO is currently working on Braille and audio building guides for visually impaired LEGO enthusiasts. This is a major step towards inclusion, especially since the iconic building blocks provide kids who cannot see with a fun tactile activity. Soon they will be able to access the full experience and challenge.
LEGOs have been a staple children's toy since their debut in 1932. They provide hours of open-ended fun. Their invention took classic blocks to a new level by allowing builders to affix the blocks to one another and create amazing structures.
Children with visual impairments can construct complicated LEGO projects, using their sense of touch to guide them. Many of these children are capable of very advanced creations. However, an inability to see prevents them from following LEGO's instructional manuals. But luckily, LEGO is about to tear that limit down.
Twenty-two-year-old entrepreneur Matthew Shifrin has teamed up with LEGO to make the toys more accessible to visually impaired children.
Shifrin was born blind, and he loved LEGOs growing up. To help him read the instructional manuals, his friend Lilya used to translate the pictures into written words, which he then had converted to Braille. This process took countless hours. Shifrin wants all blind and visually impaired kids to be able to access what he could, thanks to Lilya's goodwill.
As Shifrin explains it, blind kids are left out of so many childhood experiences, but LEGOs are something they can do. Making the instructions accessible would nurture this experience so much further.
LEGO did release a Braille product recently, but its purpose was to teach visually impaired kids to read, not to build.
Newly developed LEGO audio and Braille instructions are currently in the pilot phase. A limited number of the manuals are available for kids and parents to try and submit their feedback. The sets retail for about $10-$30 and audio or Braille (via a screen reader) instructions can be accessed online.