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New Braille Lego Blocks Will Teach Visually Impaired Children To Read

Even though we are living in the era of technological advancement, most companies and institutions do not prioritize accessibility.

Everything in Western society, from building entrances to restaurant menus, is made for able-bodied, neurotypical people.

Thankfully, a select few organizations have recently moved in a more accessible direction .

For children who live with disabilities, accessibility and representation are vital.

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It is important that kids see themselves represented in the media they consume and the toys they play with.

Products like the new American Girl Dolls showcase a wide range of girlhood experience that isn't limited to being white and able-bodied.

Lego recently announced the release of a new, accessibility-oriented brick.

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The Braille Bricks are specifically designed with blind and visually impaired children in mind.

While kids build structures with the Lego blocks, they are also learning to read Braille through the identification of different textures.

The product has been in the works for a while.

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The original concept started development in 2011, in collaboration with blind associations from Denmark, Brazil, The UK, and Norway.

Prototypes for the blocks are now in their testing stage. The final product is expected to arrive in stores at some point in 2020.

The Braille Bricks Kit will include the entire braille alphabet, numbers 0-9, and math symbols.

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Each brick will have printed letters and numbers on them so that sighted teachers, students, and family members can learn as well.

The studs on the bricks represent the dots in braille, and each brick will be fully compatible with other types of LEGO bricks.

This is a huge step forward in the toy industry.

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David Clarke, Director of Services for The Royal National Institute of Blind People, commented on this monumental achievement:

Thanks to this innovation, children with vision impairment will be able to learn braille and interact with their friends and classmates in a fun way, using play to encourage creativity while learning to read and write. I’m excited to see how together, RNIB and Lego can inspire and support the next generation.”

The announcement has garnered a lot of positive attention.

Twitter user @jwsteiert wrote that the new Lego product gives everyone the opportunity to learn braille, "regardless of age or ability."

When able-bodied people take the time to learn things like braille and sign language, we can help to de-stigmatize and normalize the languages.

LEGO Braille Blocks aren't just for kids either.

A lot of adults have responded to the announcement with their own personal stories and are excited for the opportunity to re -visit a classic toy in a way more easily accessible to them.

We have a lot farther to go, but Lego is certainly moving in the right direction.

Accessible toys will teach a new generation of children that they are valid and that their dreams are valid.

I want to be explicitly clear that what Lego is doing is not revolutionary: it is necessary.

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