Braille Bricks is a toy that’s just arrived in Mexico with a laudable objective: for children with vision impairment to learn Braille in a playful way and also develop cognitive, linguistic, and social skills.
The company wants the toy to be implemented in Mexico’s special education elementary schools and also intends to launch in 11 languages and a total of 20 countries this year.
“The bricks are molded so that the studs on top reflect the Braille alphabet while remaining fully compatible with the LEGO System in Play,” reads the company’s website.
Braille Bricks also feature printed letters, numbers, and symbols so that they can be used simultaneously by sighted peers, classmates, and teachers.
How does it work?
“These bricks enable children to learn creatively while also engaging with their classmates in a fun and interactive way,” explains the company.
The LEGO Braille Bricks toolkit is accompanied by a pedagogical concept that is based on Learning through Play and includes inspiration for brick-based activities to enhance learning and skill-development.
Each kit will contain 300+ LEGO Braille Bricks covering the full alphabet in the chosen language, numbers 0-9, and select mathematical symbols and punctuation marks. It will be available in five LEGO colors and will also include three base plates (to form words) and a brick separator.
The strategy for Mexico
Misael García Sámano, the Pedagogical Development and Innovation Coordinator at Education for Sharing, an international, non-profit organization, says in an interview for Tec Review that there are three organizations involved in the project: the one he represents, the Lego Foundation, and Centro de Estudios para Invidentes, A.C. (The Study Center for the Blind, CEIAC).
“The LEGO foundation chose CEIAC, an organization that specializes in working with people with vision impairment. Located in Chihuahua, it has 35 years’ experience in this field,” he says.
CEIAC was entrusted by the LEGO Foundation with the mission of creating a training program that includes LEGO Braille Bricks, so that the project can be launched in elementary schools which specialize in the education of children with vision impairment in Mexico.
“The foundation asked us to teach learning through play. So, we gave this training to 15 CEIAC teachers from December 7 to 12 of last year, totally online,” explains García Sámano.
LEGO also says that LEGO Braille Bricks toolkits will be distributed free of charge to select institutions.
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Following the UN
This educational plan for learning through play is inspired by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations (UN), especially number four: Quality Education.
“By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations,” is the planned target according to an official UN statement.
The LEGO Foundation agrees with this goal for the end of the decade, especially as regards helping children with disabilities to develop the necessary skills to live in an uncertain and complex world.
“The concept behind LEGO Braille Bricks was first proposed to the LEGO Foundation in 2011 by the Danish Association of the Blind and again in 2017 by the Brazilian-based Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind,” says the website of the famous plastic brick company from Denmark.
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