A new toy is helping to connect the dots for kids learning braille.
Braille Bricks are building blocks that look almost exactly like Legos but have one distinctive difference. Instead of every block donning six pegs on top, each Braille Brick represents a letter in the braille alphabet:
“The innovation is in the simplicity,” Eliana Cunha Lima, a specialist at Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind in the above video.
The blocks — which were made by the design agency Lew’Lara\TBWA for the Dorina Nowill Foundation — make it fun and easy for kids who are blind to learn braille. Instead of using a Perkins Brailler, or a braille typewriter, to create bumps on paper that spell out words, kids can use these Lego-like bricks to spell out words. Not only is it fun, it allows them to easily make corrections if they’ve made a mistake.
Braille Bricks, which are not associated with Legos but are compatible with the popular toy, can also be stacked and assembled to build other objects as well, making it easier for kids who are blind to build social connections with kids who are not.
A 1993 study that placed pre-school aged kids who are blind with peers who can see, found that the kids who were blind seldom played or initiated contact with the other children. The study also found that kids who were not blind showed interest in interacting with the kids who were blind at first, but because their initiations were often neglected, they lost interest. A toy like Braille Blocks may be able to bridge that gap.
According to AdWeek, about 300 sets are available, but Dorina Nowill released the designs under a Creative Commons license, in hopes that other manufacturers will pick up the design, making it available to more kids.
For more information, check out Braille Bricks’ website. If you would like to help spread the word, use the hashtag #BrailleBricksforAll.