LEGO is bringing its Braille Bricks to the general public for the first time ever.
The toy company initially released the special set to organizations that work with children with vision impairment, free of charge. But LEGO says the sets will now be available for purchase by anyone who is interested in learning the Braille system.
"We were thrilled by the reception that LEGO Braille Bricks received in educational settings. We’ve been inundated with thousands of requests to make them more widely available, so we just knew we had to make it happen," offered LEGO’s lead project designer, Rasmus Løgstrup.
Image courtesy LEGO
The Braille Bricks set includes 287 bricks in five colors. The bumps on each brick are arranged to correspond to the numbers and letters in the Braille system, with the printed version of the symbol or letter printed below the bumps. They’re fully compatible with other LEGO bricks.
The World Health Organization estimates that 19 million children around the world are visually impaired and that 1.4 million of those children are blind. In the U.S. alone, the CDC says, about 6.8% of children younger than 18 years have a diagnosed eye or vision condition and nearly 3 percent of those are blind or visually impaired. Yet only 10 percent of blind children learn to read Braille compared to more than 50 percent in the 1950s, according to a 2017 report from the National Federation of the Blind.
Image courtesy LEGO
"For the blind community, Braille is not just literacy, it’s our entry to independence and inclusion into this world, and to have LEGO Braille Bricks made available for the wider public is a massive step forward to ensuring more children will want to learn braille in the first place," Martine Abel-Williamson, the president of the World Blind Union, said in a press release about the bricks.
The $90 Braille Brick kits are available in English and French and are set to go on sale starting September 1; more languages will be added next year.
The company also announced that audio and Braille building instructions will be available for selected LEGO sets going forward.
This story was reported from Tampa, Fla.