The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation are working together on a new LEGO Braille Bricks kit. Expected to hit shelves in 2020, the project is designed to help blind and visually impaired children learn braille, and will include approximately 250 bricks featuring the full alphabet, numbers and select math symbols.
The Braille Bricks are molded with the same number of studs used for individual letters and numbers in the braille alphabet, and will be fully compatible with other LEGO bricks and playsets. The bricks also include a printed letter or number to allow sighted teachers, family members and friends to interact with the product.
LEGO is rolling out these products at a time when the World Health Organization estimates 19 million children globally are vision impaired. However, both the US-based National Federation of the Blind and the European Blind Union report that fewer children are learning braille.
The concept was first introduced to the LEGO Foundation by the Danish Association of the Blind in 2011 and then again by Brazil’s Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind in 2017. Associations in Denmark, Brazil, the UK and Norway also collaborated on the project. Right now, prototypes are being tested for those regions in Danish, Norwegian, English and Portuguese, and prototypes in German, Spanish and French will be tested in Q3.
Once the kits are completed, LEGO will donate some to a select number of institutions in the regions it has been conducting testing.
LEGO’s effort is the most recent in a raft of accessibility-focused content and consumer products in the kids space. Sesame Workshop’s first autistic Muppet, Julia, made her Sesame Street debut on PBS KIDS and HBO in April 2017, while Microsoft launched its Xbox adaptive controller in September 2018, and Mattel announced earlier this year that its new offerings will include a Barbie with a prosthetic limb as well as a wheelchair that comes equipped with a Dreamhouse-compatible ramp.