A visually impaired boy who was once able to foster his love for Legos while a family friend wrote out instructions for him in Braille is now working with the company to develop audio building guides.
That boy, Matthew Shifrin, was born blind. He’s now a 22-year-old entrepreneur who has teamed up with Lego on the guides. They are part of a project that is working on creating Braille and audio in multiple languages for every single building set, according to a news release.
Shifrin said it was his friend, Lilya — the one who helped him to build Legos when he was young — dying in 2017 that inspired him to use her method to help other blind people.
“She learned Braille to engage with me and support my Lego passion and then spent countless hours translating Lego instructions into Braille,” Shifrin said. “This is extremely important for blind children because there aren’t a lot of places where we can say: ‘Look, Mom and Dad! I built this on my own. … I did this.’”
Shifrin said blind children don’t have access to what sighted kids are used to, so Lego bricks enable them to learn about their environment and see the world.
“It is so important because blind kids get left out of a lot of social stuff, especially in elementary school,” he said in a press release. “Lego building is one of the things we can do.”
The project Shifrin is working on is currently in a pilot phase. There are, however, four building sets available now through Dec. 31. Instructions are available online, either in Braille or from an audio reader recorder or screen reader.
Lego is encouraging people to try them out and submit feedback here. The sets range from $9.99 to $29.99 and are sold wherever Lego bricks are sold.
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