Friday, January 20, 2017

Truly Building Blind

Name of Resource: Lego for the Blind
Created by: Matthew Shifrin
Found at:
Details: The "Blind Build" is a popular game at LEGO conventions, but it doesn't truly capture the experience of a blind person building a LEGO set. Being blind doesn't mean only not being able to see the parts - it also means that you can't see the box or the instructions. Depending on how long someone has been without sight, it might even mean never having seen a LEGO piece. While bricks and plates are very tactile elements, most of us who experiment with a "Blind Build" as a game are very familiar with what the parts look like, and we're usually looking right at the instructions while we build. A blind person attempting to build even a fairly simple kit will need to be able to interact with all of the parts - and the instructions - without ever seeing them.

This challenge has been met by an exciting website launched recently called "Lego for the Blind". Matthew Shifrin has compiled a series of written instructions in English for a variety of popular LEGO sets (19 of them as of this writing). These instructions can then be read aloud by screen reading software. Some preparation is required (besides acquiring a set listed on the site) - a sighted person needs to sort the parts first. I suspect that that step could be skipped for a set that doesn't include the same part in multiple colors, but so far the sets the site has instructions for lean towards the larger size. Then again, having to feel through 2000+ parts to find the right shape would bring back the "goofy convention challenge" aspect...

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