Toy to teach Braille seeks industry support

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A not-for-profit Brazilian Foundation and a high profile ad agency have teamed up in a global campaign to persuade the toy industry to produce a building brick they say will help blind children to read and write

Braille Bricks resemble Lego but with the raised dots configured so that each brick represents a letter of the Braille alphabet. They are the brainchild of the Fundação Dorina Nowill para Cegos (Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind), described by the Daisy Consortium as Latin America’s largest producer of Braille books and the largest Brazilian producer of audio-books, and Lew’Lara\TBWA, a subsidiary of the advertising network TBWA Worldwide.

As Eliana Cunha Lima, a specialist at the Dorina Nowill Foundation, explains in one of the campaign’s videos,

In Brazil we don’t have many adapted materials. Existing materials are few, and most have to be adapted by the teachers themselves and the children’s parents. This year we had this gift of Braille Bricks. It’s thrilling to see that, because we know the difficulties for the children, teachers, and parents.

In another video, Flora Bitancourt, an Inclusive Education Teacher, explains,

At this stage of the child’s development, it is extremely important to offer objects, recreational toys that stimulate their creativity, their imagination, add expressiveness. Offering a toy that will really provide for inclusion within the classroom is a unique opportunity.

Lew’Lara\TBWA created enough Braille Bricks sets for about 300 children but the hope is that a toy company will pick up the design, which the Dorina Nowill Foundation has released under a Creative Commons license. Along with the website and the slick videos there is a social media campaign using the hashtag #BrailleBricksForAll

One problem, however, is that as with most simple but striking ideas it seems someone else may have got there first. As the site AgencySpy points out Braille Bricks are similar to Tack-Tiles, which originated in the US when father Kevin C Murphy mutilated Lego Bricks for his son Kevin W way back in 1980. Let’s hope a happy resolution can be found.

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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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