Here’s a nice thing from some companies this morning — and it’s got a compelling back story, to boot. Lego this morning announced a new accessibility initiative that will make building instructions for select kits available as braille or text for voice readers, in order to reach builders with blindness and vision impairment.
The service is currently available for free through the Lego Audio Instructions site. It’s still in pilot mode, which mostly means it’s currently limited to four kits, with one each from Classic Lego, Lego City, Lego Friends and Lego Movie 2. The company is currently collecting feedback from the experiences with plans to build out its offerings at some point in the first half of next year.
The idea comes from Matthew Shifrin, a blind 22-year-old Lego enthusiast. He approached the company with the idea after he and a friend worked together to create instructions for kits that he could read.
“I had a friend, Lilya, who would write down all the building steps for me so that I could upload them into a system that allowed me to read the building steps on a braille reader through my fingers,” he says in a release. “She learned Braille to engage with me and support my LEGO passion, and then spent countless hours translating LEGO instructions into Braille.”
MIT’s Media Lab helped create software that uses AI to translate visual LXFML data (LEGO Exchange Format Mel Script) instructions into text. The result of those instructions are currently being hosted on the Lego site.