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20 September 2019

Lego has recently announced plans to create Braille and Audio Instructions to
give people who are blind or vision impaired a chance to create Lego sets.

The idea began when Matthew Shifrin, a blind Lego fan since
childhood, was given a Lego set from a family friend that came with a binder of
Braille instructions, hand-written using a Braille typewriter. He realised that
this wasn’t something he could keep to himself, and so he started up the Legofortheblind website. The website was
where he and his family friend, made Braille and audio instructions for people
who were blind or vision impaired.

The website was a success and almost immediately Matthew
and his family friend Lilya were flooded with requests for different sets to be
made accessible with their Braille system. Unfortunately, Matthew had to turn
down many of these requests as he didn’t have the capabilities to be filling
out hundreds of orders with just him and his friend. He turned to The Lego Foundation, who embraced
the idea of Braille and Audio Based Lego Instructions with open arms.

Sharlini, a 13-year-old Lego Fanatic , shares her
enthusiasm about the news:

“It’s a great chance for everyone, no matter your
capabilities, to be able to enjoy a personal favourite pastime of mine.
Building Lego is meant to bring people together, and this news is proof that
nothing, not even being a person that’s blind or vision impaired, can stop
that.”

The Pilot project has commenced with The Lego Foundation
dubbing it as ‘Lego Braille & Audio Building Instructions: A pilot
experience’. The timeline on the website shows they are planning to review
feedback from September – November before announcing any future plans in
January 2020.

While Lego may not be seen as a traditional access story, its growing relevance in teaching children how to interact with robotics and the Internet of Things makes this an exciting new development.

Special thanks to Sharlini for contributing to this article.

The Centre for Accessibility is a joint project by Media on Mars, DADAA and Dr Scott Hollier and is funded by the Department of Communities, Disability Services.

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