LEGO is releasing sets of braille bricks for visually impaired children

LEGO recently unveiled plans to roll out a set of bricks for use by the visually impaired. Using each LEGO brick's 3-by-2 grid of raised dots, the educational toy includes bricks imprinted with every letter, number, and mathematical symbol in the braille alphabet.

Why LEGOs? Well, the American Printing House for the Blind recently found that only 8.4 percent of visually impaired children read Braille, as opposed to 50 percent in 1960. With the advent of audio books and voice-to-text technology, reading and writing are becoming lost arts for the visually impaired, often for lack of resources or time — modern braille education methods include expensive "Braille writers" or a slate and stylus, both of which create text that is difficult for students to edit or erase. LEGO bricks are not only swappable, but children are already familiar with their mechanics!


There is a high demand for this kind of educational tool. The Danish Association of the Blind and the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind in Brazil have both called upon LEGO to make something like this in the past decade — even making their own product, Braille Bricks, which will continue to be compatible with LEGO.


How LEGO® Braille Bricks help kids learn! www.youtube.com


The Royal National Institute of Blind People in the United Kingdom is helping to develop the bricks. David Clarke, the director of the institute, is quoted as saying, "Thanks to this innovation, children with vision impairment will be able to learn Braille and interact with their friends and classmates in a fun way, using play to encourage creativity while learning to read and write." This is a truly wonderful partnership — pretty much a full redemption from when LEGO partnered up with Shell gas stations in 2014.

Smithsonian Magazine reports, "Currently, Lego has developed sets covering Danish, English, Norwegian and Portuguese, but will also have French, German and Spanish versions ready to go by the 2020 launch date."

"With thousands of audiobooks and computer programs now available, fewer kids are learning to read Braille," Philippe Chazal, Treasurer of the European Blind Union, recently said in a report by the National Federation for the Blind.

"This is particularly critical when we know that Braille users often are more independent, have a higher level of education and better employment opportunities. We strongly believe Lego Braille Bricks can help boost the level of interest in learning Braille, so we're thrilled that the Lego Foundation is making it possible to further this concept and bring it to children around the world."

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.