LEGO instructions now have audio and braille for the visually impaired

It is a sad fact that much of the world's products take for granted the people who deserve the same experience but could not due to one physical disability or another. That's true from some visual-centric products like smartphones and tablets but is also equally true for toys. LEGO, a brand that's known for inspiring creativity and learning, has unfortunately been out of reach of children who couldn't even see the instructions for building a set. That is, fortunately, changing with the company now creating formats that can be used by the blind and the visually impaired.

LEGO sets aren't completely visual toys. Yes, they come in colored bricks but the experience is actually more tactile and cranial than visual. Unfortunately, the instructions that come with the sets are indeed made for perfectly able people.

Fortunately for visually impaired children and adults, blind entrepreneur Matthew Shifrin had a passion for LEGO at an early age. And fortunately for him, he had a friend, Lilya, who learned Braille and typed out the instructions in Braille, which was no small task. The instructions for LEGO's London Tower Bridge set covered 850 pages. Lilya sadly passed away in 2017 and Shifrin set out to honor her memory by reaching out to LEGO to give blind children that same opportunity.

It's not an immediate change but some LEGO sets now have audio instructions available on the company's accessible website. At the launch of the new service, only a set from LEGO Classic, LEGO CITY, LEGO Friends, LEGO Movie 2 are available. Aside from using a screen reader to go through the instructions, users can also use a Braille reader to do the same.

Some might wonder how the visually impaired can appreciate the final result of a LEGO set. Blind people can actually be amazing at understanding how something looks just by touching them. And when they've built a replica of the London Tower Bridge or the Sydney Opera House, not only do they get a sense of what the structures look like, they can also get the satisfaction of building something on their own.