LEGO believes brick building should be inclusive for everyone, which is why LEGO Audio and Braille instructions are being introduced.
The idea was inspired by Matthew Shifrin who was born blind and loved to play with LEGO bricks. As a child, he had a friend, Lilya who would painstakingly write down all of the LEGO building steps so that he could upload the written directions into a system that translated them in a Braille reader. For the first time in his life, he was able to build LEGO sets entirely on his own.
“This is extremely important for blind children because there aren’t a lot of places where we can say, ‘Look, Mom and Dad! I built this on my own… I did this,’“ says Shifrin. “For blind children, we don’t have access to what sighted kids are used to. LEGO bricks enable us to learn about our environment, to see the world.”
When Lilya sadly passed away Shifrin decided he wanted to share his experience with others like him. A friend from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology introduced him to the Creative Play Lab at LEGO Group and his wonderful idea was developed into the LEGO Audio and Braille instructions that are being rolled out today.
Available as a free service via the LEGO Audio Instructions website, LEGO builders can now access building directions either by audio instructions on a screen reader or by using a Braille reader. The program is currently in a pilot stage with four LEGO set instructions available including the following sets:
- 11001 LEGO® Bricks and Ideas LEGO® Classic
- 41365 LEGO® Friends Emma’s Art Shop
- 60207 LEGO® City Sky Police Drone Chase
- 70821 The LEGO® Movie 2™ Emmet and Benny’s ‘Build and Fix’ Workshop!
The pilot phase will last from Aug. 28 to Dec. 31 with plans to roll out additional audio and Braille instructions next year.
All photos: Courtesy of LEGO Group