For Matthew Shifrin, who was born blind, playing with Lego sets presented a challenge. While he loved the blocks and how they taught him about things like engineering concepts and the shape of the Empire State Building, he could not utilize the toys’ building instructions, which are represented with images.
Instead a family friend spent hours writing out the steps so Shifrin could upload them into a system that put the instructions onto his braille reader, which converts text into the series of raised dots known as braille.
The experience inspired Shifrin to help children who are blind or have limited vision access Lego instructions just like he did. That’s why Shifrin, now 22, teamed up with Lego to begin creating braille and audio building instructions for the company’s toy sets.
Lego’s goal is to develop braille and audio instructions for all their sets and in more languages besides English, says Fenella Blaize Charity, Lego’s creative director.
The company has increasingly made more of its products accessible to people with disabilities. The launch of braille and audio instructions comes four months after Lego debuted its Braille Bricks, which teach the braille writing system.
Lego is piloting four building sets with the braille and audio instructions until Dec. 31. The sets include models of buildings, vehicles, and a spaceship from The LEGO Movie 2 andthe City Sky Police Drone Chase kit, which features a helicopter. The sets range in price from $9.99 to $29.99.
Anyone can buy these sets and then access the free instructions on a website created by Lego. They can also share their feedback on the site.
Lego plans to use those comments to make improvements to the instructions and increase the number of sets with braille and audio directions next year.
Shifrin, an entrepreneur, approached Lego in 2017 with the idea to make the company’s products more accessible.
“I just want to foster as many blind Lego addicts as I can and help them get into the hobby because it’s helped me so much … I really want to give back to these kids,” Shifrin says.
Prior to his partnership with Lego, Shifrin, along with with his family friend, Lilya Finkel, uploaded written instructions for Lego sets on a . Their work included directions for a kit to build Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books.
Parents of blind children began sending them emails asking for instructions for more Lego sets.
“We had to turn them down because we were only two people,” Shifrin says.
Shortly after Shifrin pitched Lego, Finkel died. Although saddened by his friend’s death, Shifrin knew he wanted to continue their venture.
During the development phase, Shifrin spoke with blind children who were testing out the toys and the instructions.
“I saw these kids having an ‘aha’ moment and saying ‘Hey, we wanted to do this for years and now you’ve given us the opportunity to do this,'” says Shifrin. “Now Lego has stepped up their game and they’re giving us the opportunity to build like our sighted siblings.”
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Fuente: / Source: mashable.com