+
Most Shared

How do people who are blind learn to read braille? Here's a cool new way.

Braille Bricks may be the key to helping raise literacy among those who are blind.

As a baby, Anny struggled to meet her mother's eyes as she breastfed — the first sign that something was amiss.

Janete, Anny's mother, came to learn that her daughter had a very strong nystagmus, a condition which results in uncontrolled movement of the eye. As a result, Anny would spend her life struggling to see, functionally blind.


"When Anny was first brought to be breastfed, I noticed her eyes wouldn't fix on mine." All images and GIFs via Braille Bricks.

Janete did all she could for Anny, even sending her to school with a braille typewriter. Unfortunately for both of them, Anny's teachers simply didn't know how to use it and therefore couldn't teach her how to teach to read.

"When she went to school, I told the teacher she would bring the braille typewriter."

According to the National Federation of the Blind, just 10% of blind children in the U.S. are learning braille.

Most of the time, as was the case for Anny, it's an issue of teachers not having the skills or resources to teach children with visual impairments to read. As the NFB writes, "America would never accept a 10% literacy rate among sighted children." So why is that rate acceptable for children with visual challenges?

There needs to be a better way to teach children to learn braille — and now there is. They're called Braille Bricks.

And at their core, Braille Bricks are basically modified Legos. Letters in the braille alphabet are represented in a series of dots across a 2x3 area, making the 2x3 Lego brick the perfect canvas for this project. The idea came from a Brazilian nonprofit called the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind.

"Small modifications to toy building bricks found at any kids store and voila: we have a full braille alphabet."

As you can see, it's simply a matter of which dots of the bricks are left raised that determine the letter:

"A, B, C, D... ." You get the idea.

It's pretty simple, right? See, here's how you'd write "Upworthy" using Braille Bricks:

You can make your own saying over at the Braille Bricks website.

The best part is that Braille Bricks are not only educational — they're fun, too.

Whether students are blind or have low vision or not, Braille Bricks serve as an educational toy all children can have fun playing with...


Children play with Braille Bricks.

...which is why teacher Camila Ferreria describes the impact these bricks have had on her students like this:

"It helps not only with braille literacy, but also aids in integration with the other kids."

So no longer do students who are blind need to be separated from their classmates; it can be an inclusive learning experience for all.

As for Anny, she loves her Braille Bricks, and in a world so seemingly eager to ignore her needs, they are definitely a welcome development.

Finding new ways to accommodate individuals with disabilities is so important. Having empathy for others is such a key element in life, and this is just one example of how thinking creatively can produce simple, effective solutions that bring people with different life experiences and opportunities together through compassion.

"The experience was great for me, because having another way to learn braille is much better."

Currently, Braille Bricks are available on a very small scale, with somewhere around 300 students having access to them.

That's why the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind is asking for help. Their hope is that someone in the toy industry will take interest in their project and produce these learning tools on a mass scale. (Hello, Lego?) What they're asking of people around the world is to raise awareness of the product by using the hashtag #BrailleBricksForAll.

Will it work? Only time will tell. But does this seem like a cool, fun, and simple solution to encouraging literacy and inclusion among blind students and their sighted friends? Absolutely.

It's awesome that Braille Bricks are working out for Anny and other students at the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind. Here's hoping that the helpers of the world continue to develop new ways to make our world a more accessible place.

For more information about Braille Bricks, check out this video below:

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Grab your boost of serotonin here.

Polina Tankilevitch/Canva

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

Holy moly—it's fall, y'all!

As pumpkin spice swoops in and we start unpacking our cozy sweaters and cute boots, we can practically taste the seasonal change in the air. Fall is filled with so many small joys—the fresh, crisp smell of apples, the beauty of the leaves as they shift from greens to yellows, oranges and reds, the way the world gets wrapped in a warm glow even as the air grows cooler.

Part of what makes the beauty of fall unique is that it's fleeting. Mother Nature puts on a vibrant show as she sheds what no longer serves her, inviting us to revel in her purposeful self-destruction. It's a gorgeous example of not only embracing change, but celebrating it.

Keep ReadingShow less
via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less