PHOENIX (KFDX/KJTL) — Popular toy company LEGO is releasing braille legos. One school in Phoenix shares how it’s making learning fun for visually impaired kids.
Audio: “what are the dots for that one? One, two, three, four, five, six. Nice job.
Some lessons, even ones that appear simple, can be very complex and challenging.
Elementary teacher Garrett Pendergast says, “you know, as print readers, we are able to look at things and kind of get it, you know, where a lot of the kids with visual impairments, or students with visual impairments, they have to use tactical discrimination or, you know, be able to increase their sense of touch.”
Garrett Pendergast is an elementary teacher for students with visual impairment at the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix, one of a select group of educators, who was chosen to test the new “braille brick” legos.
Pendergast says, “I was excited because teaching braille is not, is not always…it’s not as easy to teach as you might think.”
MOS says: “it’s, it’s very uh, very rare and, and difficult to find different educational tools and accessories that, um help our, our teachers with visually impaired work with our students. So you see a lot of homemade, um, type manipulatives that are, we work with kids whether it be muffin tins or homemade buttons that we make. So to have an organization and company like legos to partner with is, is exciting.”
Eight schools nationwide were asked to participate in the testing phase.
MOS says: “one of the, um, misconceptions we had about this before opening up the packages is we thought legos, you think of creative play you think of building, working together in teams. And this is this is strictly teaching the kids how to, um, learn their alphabet in braille and so i think more interaction and that, and that creative play would be helpful.”
Pendergast says, “the way, the way they’re set up as a braille cell, a braille cell is set up with two vertical columns, one two three, four, five six. So they take in the original braille ego out of the, excuse me, out of the lego design and they were able to um, put the braille dots corresponding to the letters and numbers on them”.
Audio: “here let me show you.”)
One of the first things teachers noticed was the interaction. Eager to learn because the lesson felt more like play.
Pendergast says, “we’ve been working with lucky on, with his braille alphabet both reading and writing and we were able to, using the braille legos, we were able to get him to, you know, um, because a braille cell is very very small this is a little larger so he was able to feel the dots and be able to name them and um, be able to spell his name and read his name.”
The braille brick legos included a lesson plan, the makers eager to make a difference.
Pendergast says, “I’m looking forward to when they are going to be available because right now they are in the test phase so they’re getting a lot of feedback from testers and then sending back and they’re adjusting things on the fly with that before they release them commercially.”