Lego Braille Bricks: A Fun New Way to Learn & Foster Inclusivity
Published on Tuesday, 16 March 2021
Last updated on Monday, 22 March 2021
LEGO has long been valued by educators for fostering creativity and encouraging children to learn through play and now they’ve stepped things up a notch with the release of LEGO Braille Bricks, which are specifically designed to help with children with vision impairment.
The new range will be available to educators in Australia early this year through Vision Australia, in partnership with the LEGO Foundation (no word yet on when they will be available in New Zealand).
LEGO Braille Bricks provide a fun and engaging way to help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system.
The raised bumps on each brick are modified to correspond to a letter or character in the braille alphabet, alongside a printed letter or character so children who are blind or with low vision can learn and play along sighted classmates.
“Braille is an important tool, particularly for young people with vision impairment, and these cleverly designed bricks enable children to learn braille creatively while also engaging with their classmates in a fun and interactive way,” says David Clarke, Director of Services at the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the UK.
Inclusivity is a cornerstone of our education system and, as such, LEGO Braille Bricks are sure to be welcomed by educators when they reach our shores.
“Inclusive education is underpinned by the belief that every learner has the potential to make a valuable contribution to the wellbeing of their family, whānau, community and to Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole.
It asserts that our diversity is a strength and "draws attention to diversity and difference as a key part of quality teaching, honouring Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty of Waitangi,” states the Ministry of Education.
If you are teaching a child who is blind or low vision, here are some practical tips from Blind Low Vision New Zealand on how to set up your centre to accommodate their needs, help them become familiar with the layout and make learning fun:
Pre-School Centre Tips
- Familiarity and Time: Ensure the child is familiar with the outside layout and equipment.
- Allow them time to become familiar with all outdoor play equipment without other children distracting or interrupting them.
- Route familiarisation: Before the child travels outside, ensure they are given the opportunity to become familiar with their route to the outside exit.
- Whenever the child goes outside the staff need to take them to the same start spot each time.
- Always place objects in the same position: Introduce the child to the position of play objects and the preschool layout. Allow her/him time to become familiar with these objects, and name them (age appropriate). Whenever the inside or outside play areas are set up, ensure objects are placed in the same position.
- Remove carelessly placed objects and clutter from child’s line of travel.
- Group activities and glare: When the staff read stories, sings songs or lead group interaction, ensure they do not stand or sit in front of a window or glass door. The glare from the window will make it difficult for the child to see the staff person as they look like a black shadow. The child will not be able to note movement and instruction, such as pointing.
- Introducing contact people: When the child is handed from one staff person to another, ensure they introduce themselves by name so that the child is aware of the person and can link the person to a name.
- If the child needs to find something like her or his name tag or a toy, ensure they are placed on a plain background with a good colour contrast as she or he will find it difficult to locate objects that are jumbled or cluttered.
Visit the Blind Low Vision NZ website for more helpful tips.
Find out about the support available to vision-impaired students on the Ministry of Education website.
Learn more about LEGO Braille Bricks here.
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