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Lego Braille Bricks put the alphabet at blind kids' fingertips

Lego introduces a new plastic brick-based learning tool to help teach Braille to blind children.

Lego Braille Bricks can be used by both visually impaired and sighted people.

Lego fans have always known the colorful plastic bricks are more than just toys. They're worlds waiting to be created. Lego is now expanding its universe even more with a new project, Lego Braille Bricks.

The customized bricks are molded with studs that correspond to letters and numbers in Braille, but are also fully compatible with regular Lego pieces. Lego hopes to encourage blind and visually impaired kids to learn the reading system through interactive games and play.

The Braille Bricks kits contain around 250 pieces covering the full alphabet, plus numbers and math symbols. "To ensure the tool is inclusive allowing sighted teachers, students and family members to interact on equal terms, each brick will also feature a printed letter or character," Lego said in an announcement on Wednesday.

It's been a long time coming. The Danish Association of the Blind first proposed the idea to the Lego Foundation in 2011. Brazil's Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind brought it up again in 2017. The Lego Foundation is a Lego-associated group "dedicated to redefining play and reimagining learning."

Braille codes can differ between countries. Braille Bricks prototypes are now being tested in Danish, Norwegian, English and Portuguese. German, Spanish and French are coming later this year. 

Morten Bonde, senior art director for Lego Group, worked on the project. He's going blind due to a genetic condition. 

"Experiencing reactions from both students and teachers to Lego Braille Bricks has been hugely inspirational and reminded me that the only limitations I will meet in life are those I create in my mind," Bonde said. 

The Lego Braille kits are set to launch more widely in 2020. Lego said they "will be distributed free of charge to select institutions through participating partner networks in the markets where testing is being carried out."