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Lego Braille bricks (newelementary.com)
68 points by app4soft 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

This is an awesome idea, and I do hope that at some point these sets become more widely available.

Many people think of Braille as something that is not necessary to learn unless you are blind or visually impaired.

But having sighted people learn Braille has all sorts of positive indirect consequences.

For instance, at the very least, it is likely to help them keep accessibility issues more toward the front of their minds than if they had no exposure to it.

It is one of those things that seems like it would be fun to know, but I have no idea how to learn. Even if I would learn I don't know where to get reading material to practice with. I suspect most readers agree with the above.

Free PDF-book «Connect The Dots»[0] by The Blind Foundation[1] would be good start point.

[0] https://bf-website-uploads-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploa...

[1] http://blindfoundation.org.nz/how-we-can-help/daily-life/bra...

As addition here is online Braille Translator[0]

#LEGO ⮂ ⠸⠹⠇⠑⠛⠕

[0] https://www.branah.com/braille-translator

The 16 patterns that don’t have dots in the top row can be rotated over 180 degrees, producing 10 equivalence sets, six with two bricks, and four with one brick each (the empty brick and the one with four dots in Braille positions 2,3,5,6 (US digit ‘7’) are invariant under that rotation, as are the pattern matching ‘e’ and ‘i’, lowered one row (U.S digits 5 and 9)

So, if they don’t use tactile letters and don’t add any tactile pattern to indicate orientation, they need only 57 new moulds.

but without orientation it is more difficult to learn and check. you intend to put one letter but pick the wrong one, later a teacher can't tell which mistake you made, and can't help you correct it.

or imagine cooperation "hey, can you give me an 'a'?" you get a letter, and place it the wrong way, then you read and think "this is an 'a'" learning the wrong pattern.

you don't have that problem with other tools because you orient the whole device (or paper)

Great idea.

Plus, you don't even need special bricks, use regular ones, and put as many one-square bricks on them as you need.

As others are saying this is cool idea.

I wonder since the clutch or friction is reduced due to fewer pegs, why not consider null pegs, pegs which are like a hollow cylinder rather than solid cylinder. Maybe it would be too much of a compromise and distract learners or misinform learners what true Braille is like?

lower height pegs might work, but why would you use braille bricks in places where you can't read the text? they are not building blocks but writing blocks, the same way you would use flat bricks that have letters printed on them or a sticker.

not being useful as building parts also help them not as easily disappear into lego buildings elsewhere. (although that is a faint hope, as i am sure kids will use them that way anyways without considering the lack of stability)

That makes sense but kids being kids I’m sure they’d like a dual purpose toy. One they learn with but which they could also play/build with.

The LEGO patent ran out a few years ago, anyone could make these. But they didn't, plus it has taken decades for this Braille teaching aid to come along.

I suspect this will sell well to adults who have fond memories of playing with LEGO and have got bored of fridge magnets.

The LEGO patent was about as illegal a patent as there ever was, especially given that LEGO stole the original design of the bricks.

got any reference to that claim?

the patent for the material too? i think the problem with earlier clones was not the shape but the quality of the plastic

The plastic was orginally cellulose based plastic which did not keep its shape very well over time and also tended to become more and more transparent.

As for the bricks themselves:


As much as I'm a fan of LEGO that was a pretty dirty trick they pulled and the whitewash attempt later on even dirtier.

More here:


thanks. that doesn't really make patents illegal, because there should be significant differences. and significant improvements on existing things are themselves patentable.

but i agree with you that whitewashing history is dirty. although, i do remember in a 5 minute video about lego history which i believe was made by lego, it was acknowledged that they got the brick idea from a fair that demoed injection molding machines.

as for suing their competition, i do hope they don't succeed. lego is pretty big in china too, but clones are rampant, and their brick quality is getting hard to distinguish from lego.

there are of course those that directly copy lego original models. but they also design their own. the latter should be allowed.

They aren't planning to sell it. I wouldn't be surprised if it did sell well if their tried.

the lego brand is still very strong, and moulds are not cheap, so this is not something, someone would think up and execute quickly. only in recent years we see more product ideas of this kind, so i can't really imagine that it would have come up earlier.

This is super interesting, like a combination of braille, legos, and moveable type... I don't know how someone didn't think of this sooner.

OMG, This would be an amazing 3d printable item.

That seems like a great idea. All kudos to the LEGO Foundation for the idea, but the article repeatedly references compromises made to maintain the brand. A 3D printed version could be made without those compromises. It's not like it matters if these blocks integrate with the rest of the LEGO world particularly; any solution for laying this reasonably securely on some sort of foundation plate would work. That's not completely trivial, but I bet it would be sufficient to just have something like sized, spaced holes 1/2 to 3/4s of the depth of the blocks, so they'll stay put with fingers dragged across them; pick it up and flip it over to empty it. Less elegant, certainly, but much less printing precision required. Other solutions may work as well.

I'd be surprised if you could 3d print lego bricks with sufficient accuracy to get proper clutch.

i've managed to get decent clutch, but they wear out a lot more quickly.

i am still waiting for the day that i can print my own lego compatible bricks that actually work reliably.

i am glad to see that progress is being made. i hope that the wear out is a problem of the material and not the printing process, so maybe better material can solve that?

For sturdy construction, probably not. For a flat sheet of braille text, maybe.

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