How LEGO Helps Blind People See?

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We are all dreamers, and ‘’slaves’’ of our own imagination. Imagination can be a brilliant experience, or as Albert Einstein once said ‘’Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere’’. But even though we all have the potential to imagine any object or form any idea in our head, yet not all of us have the opportunity to actually express , and show what we are capable of creating, and building from our own little world.

Regrettably, there are many blind children, teenagers and elderly people who are unable to act upon their curiosity and imagination. Due to their lack of vision they are not capable of building or shaping objects on their own. But, fortunately, there is a toy that can turn their colorful imagination in a reality. This toy is called the LEGO.

LEGO is one of the most educational, and creative toys in the world. They were first released for sale on December 30, 2009. Since then, LEGO has been available for all including kids, teenagers and even adults. However, according to Matthew Shifrin, the creator of the website ‘’LEGO for the Blind’’, LEGO is more than just a toy, ‘’it is an excellent brain strain, and a great way to improve spatial awareness and spatial reasoning areas where blind people sometimes have trouble.”

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Shifrin has been blind since his birth , but that didn’t prevent him to start and play the LEGO. “I drooled over large Lego sets on the internet, never thinking I’d be able to build them myself,” he stated. It all changed on his 13th birthday. On that day, for the first time he used translated instructions to help him visualize the LEGO objects, and buildings in his mind. This mentally created image helped him to actually build a LEGO set, entirely on his own. Guided by his own creativity, Matthew has been able to shape and form  LEGO objects in an individual and original way. Having the chance to create and build a LEGO object helped him to be more aware and understanding of the objects and their physical structure.

LEGO is able to give you all of these different opportunities, be you blind or sighted, to perceive your world in a different way. And also, it really allows giving the blind person a real sense of scale. It allows you to see what you would be unable to feel.”  he said in a personal statement.

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On the other hand, Neuroscience, as a scientific study of the nervous system, explains that although blind people can’t actually see, they can still feel a lot of information. They have the ability of ‘’reprogramming’’ themselves , and use the visual cortex of the brain in other ways.

A recent study concludes that it can be used for solving mathematical calculations. Also in this conducted study, when both blind and completely seeing individuals were solving math assignments, it was discovered that inside their brains were ‘’pulsing’’ similar cognitive patterns. Shipra Kanjlia, one of the researchers, indicated: “It’s really surprising. These blind people have never seen anything in their lives, but they have the same number network as people who can see. It turns out brain activity is remarkably similar, at least in terms of classic number processing.”Researchers still can’t explain how is that possible, but they think that probably the brain is using some parts of the visual cortex, that are not very active or ‘’busy’’ in the perceptual process.

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Furthermore, in another study, blind participants were listening to an audio version of the game DOOM, and it was revealed that the noise of the game helped them to improve their level of spatial cognition , and to eventually determine the environment, and place where they were.

Similarly like the game DOOM , the LEGO has also the power of ‘’boosting’’ up the spatial skills of the blind person, but unlike the other toys while playing and building different objects, lego also helps us to develop certain skills such as the below:

Developing Better Motor Skills

Every LEGO’s piece has a unique story to tell. Every LEGO’s piece ‘’shines’’ in a different color, different shape , and different size. It is truly fascinating , and also amazing to know that we can combine different pieces and build our own authentic object. In the thrill and fun of  building an object on our own, we are constantly but unconsciously making a lot of small twists , and turns with our fingers, hands and arms.

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ImgCredits – pixabay.com

These minor movements are actually encouraging the development of our motor skills , or the ability to coordinate our small thumb , or the tip of our thumb in order to form the pieces together, and build an object. So the LEGO toy is an excellent choice for blind people because it stimulates their cognitive development and also enables them to complete more important tasks like writing or feeding oneself.

 Developing Better Creative Skills 

We are all individuals. We all imagine things in a different, and unique way. We all create things in a different , and original way. But, not every toy enables us to act in this way. Not every toy has the ability to ‘’push’’ us in becoming more creative, and inventive. Fortunately, we have the millions of bricks, plates and slopes from the LEGO on our disposal. With them we can freely‘’play’’ with our imagination, and build something that is entirely different from other people. It could be a pirate ship, a spaceship or even a magical kingdom. Whatever it is, it will always remember us that it was built, and created from the deepness of our imagination. And whatever it will be, it will always be our own piece of creative art.

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Developing NEW Skills 

Playing with the pieces of LEGO is like playing with the parts of our brain. While playing with them ,we are unknowingly ‘’exercising’’ our brain , and  unknowingly developing new skills. We become spatial thinkers. We become capable of ‘’seeing’’ and visualizing the LEGO objects in our mind. This is the most important skill , that needs to be ‘’watered’’ in the brains of blind people.

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Also, while thinking in a spatial way , we are using , and improving our planning , and organizational skills. These skills improve the focus in blind people, allowing them to look ahead, and successfully build the imagined object.As well , when blind people are playing with the different shapes of LEGO pieces , they are also learning the mathematical concepts of shape , and symmetry , and that is an excellent way of learning the concepts of geometry. So , the LEGO box of pieces is a also a box of new skills, that are waiting to be learned.

Concluding Thoughts,

Playing with toys can be fun. Playing with toys can be very interesting. Every toy has a special way of entertaining people. Every toy is different. Some of them are created in the process of following someone’s rules , and instructions. But, some of them, like the LEGO are letting us to listen to our imagination, and follow our creativity in building the toy.

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There is no doubt that the LEGO is more than just a classical toy. It is also an educational game , that stimulates , and improves the mental development of people, especially blind people. Those colorful LEGO bricks , plates , and slopes can have a positive influence in the intellectual growth of the blind person. They will not only improve the skills, that they already have, but they will also gain , and develop new abilities, or talents , that they didn’t even knew they could have. And, by discovering this ‘’hidden treasure’’ of skills , and talents, the LEGO is truly helping them to finally‘’see’’.

No doubt that lego can help you to create our own interesting rules and to shape our own thoughts and ideas.  Leave behind your thoughts in the comments section below. Also subscribe with us for more such interesting posts and stay tuned.

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Ljupka is a freelance writer at AlignThoughts focused on Science and Technology.