By Alisdair Valente
Vision Australia and LEGO Foundation will launch LEGO Braille Bricks as an educational kit to support children and young people who are blind or have low vision.
LEGO Braille Bricks are an educational tool that state and territory education departments will roll out this month to ensure schools and other educational organisations will give eligible students access to the bricks.
Mellissa Fanshawe is an inclusive education researcher and senior lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland and is thrilled about the collaboration between LEGO Foundation and Vision Australia.
Ms Fanshawe will be at the forefront of the new LEGO Braille Bricks rollout and was selected as Vision Australia’s education ambassador for the special new bricks, which is to be introduced this month.
“I was honoured to be chosen because I believe in braille, I love LEGO, and I am really passionate about children having access to education,” Ms Fanshawe said.
Ms Fanshawe’s role will be to look for ways to improve learning opportunities for Australian children who are blind or visually impaired and assist Vision Australia in providing training sessions to help educators understand how to develop children’s braille literacy.
“Learning through play provides countless possibilities, and I feel I can help many children who are blind or have low vision to learn braille in a new and exciting way,” Ms Fanshawe said.
Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to launch LEGO Braille Bricks this year with hundreds of toolkits to be distributed by Vision Australia to schools and institutes.
Each kit contains more than 300 bricks covering the full alphabet, numbers zero to nine, and selected literacy and mathematical symbols.
Ms Fanshawe has worked with children who are blind or have low vision for over 20 years and believes LEGO was the perfect learning tool for teachers and parents.
“New technology, such as screen readers and virtual assistants, have changed the way people who are blind or have no vision read, but learning braille is just as important as teaching sighted children to read written words,” Ms Fanshawe said.
“LEGO is fun which makes it easier to engage children with hands-on learning, braille literacy at an early age, and develop social and cognitive skills, problem-solving and fine motor skills,” Ms Fanshawe said.
For more information on Vision Australia and the LEGO Foundation rollout, please visit Vision Australia’s website to see how this applies to you.