Danish toy company LEGO is introducing a line of “Braille Bricks” in American schools to help blind and visually impaired children learn to read.
The LEGO Foundation designed and created a line of bricks molded with studs that correspond to numbers and letters in the braille alphabet. It also has printed characters allowing sighted people to read the bricks, allowing kids with sight impairments and those who are blind to communicate and play together.
“It’s a good way of bringing sighted and vision-impaired people together, playing with LEGO,” Aya, a student in London, told CBS News last year in a preview of the new bricks.
The foundation is sending the new bricks, free of charge, to school districts across the United States, according to a press release from American Printing House, a non-profit that promotes independent living for people who are blind and visually impaired.
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“We couldn’t be more excited to be working with LEGO to distribute an incredible tool to help introduce students to braille,” APH President Craig Meador said. “Reading braille means literacy that connects students to lifelong learning and opportunity.”
For schools that won’t be reopening this fall, the LEGO Foundation is sending the Braille Bricks to districts where blind or visually impaired students are registered in the hopes that teachers or administrators can send them to students’ homes.
“[Teachers] could send a kit to students at home and do activities over Zoom or a similar platform,” an APH spokesperson told CNN Business. If they have in-person classes, they could supply each student with their own kit, for now.”
The National Federation of the Blind says more than 1 million people in the U.S. are legally blind, but fewer than 10 percent can read braille.
Unemployment among blind adults is over 70 percent, and nearly 90 percent of blind American children are not learning braille.