Lego sets are possibly the most fun construction toys that are enjoyed by both children and adults. Through these fun lego sets, children learn a lot about planning, communication (if they are building with others), and team work while working on their motor skills. However, lego sets are very visual, especially the instructions. The instructions booklet that comes with each lego set consists of diagrams that can only be followed if you can see them. This is a huge roadblock for people with visual impairment.
Things are changing though! Lego just released a pilot program https://legoaudioinstructions.com through which it is providing instructions in Braille and Audio for children and adults with visual impairment. The first four sets as part of this pilot are LEGO Classic Bricks and Ideas, LEGO Friends Emma’s Art Studio, The LEGO Movie 2 Emmet & Benny’s Workshop and LEGO City Sky Patrol Police Drone Chase, and more will be added to this list soon. Each set comes with a word document that can be printed in Braille, audio instructions for a screen reader and audio instructions for a mobile device.
The screen reader instructions provide one step at a time, and a user can move to the next step by pressing the right arrow key. Previous steps can be accessed by pressing left arrow. Up and down arrows allow navigation to different sections of the build, and the space bar can be used to pause or repeat the instructions. Similarly, audio instructions can be accessed by using several up, down left, right, swipe gestures. Swiping with two fingers enable or disable colors.
This project started all thanks to Matthew Shifrin of legofortheblind.com who originally created downloadable electronic instructions for blind people so they could enjoy Lego sets too. He then reached out to Lego to create formal, accessible instructions for Lego sets that could be made available to a wider audience, and that’s how legoaudioinstructions.com was born.
Watch the video below to learn more about Lego Audio Instructions and the inspiration behind it.
Note: Trying the audio instructions on Safari on my iPad gave me the following error: “Could not play audio file. It seems that your browser does not allow autoplay. Check your browser settings and enable automatic playback of audio content.” I tried it in Google Chrome next, and got the same message. However, the audio instructions did start automatically after a few seconds and I was able to navigate through them with swipe gestures.