If you knew someone who has a visision impairment and couldn’t access LEGO sets, what can you do? For Matthew Shifrin’s friend Lilya, the answer was to make him accessible braille instructions. And now, the LEGO Group has taken the concept and is running with it.
Matthew Shifrin is an inspirational person, with an entrepreneurial, solution-orienatated mindset. He has a vision impairment and can’t access the world in the same way as those around him. As a child, he was itching to build with LEGO bricks, but couldn’t get very far – until his friend Lilya did something very special. She sat and used a braille typewriter to come with text instructions that Matthew could then read and use to build 7573 Battle of Alamut.
After this revelatory experience, Matthew and Lilya started up LEGO for the blind, a website where they shared instructions for dozens of LEGO sets so that other people with vision impairments could experience the joy of building. Years later, after Lilya had passed away, Matthew was able to make contact with the LEGO Group and now there are official audio and braille instructions. The concept is currently in the testing phase, but the hope is that eventually it will be rolled out more broadly.
That’s just a taste of Matthew’s story and how he uses LEGO bricks. In the LEGO magazine for fans, Blocks Issue 78, there’s an exclusive interview, he reveals why LEGO sets are so important to people who can’t experience the world visually and how the pieces can be used as tools to help people access different activities.
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