Our next Shout-Out goes to legofortheblind.com, founded by Matthew Shifrin. When we heard about this website we couldn’t wait to learn more, as LEGO’s have always been a family favorite.
Legofortheblind.com has free detailed text instructions (to be used with a screen-reader) for many different Lego sets. We reached out to Matthew to find out all we could about this fantastic resource for individuals that are visually impaired.
I want every blind person to feel that the once impossible is now possible; that he or she can now build a miniature LEGO world.MATTHEW SHIFRIN – ABOUT LEGOFORTHEBLIND.COM
What was your inspiration for creating legofortheblind.com?
I was inspired to create the Lego For The Blind site after my friend, Lilya Finkel, brought me a set of instructions she brailled for a Middle-eastern Lego palace. She had created a special vocabulary, describing every type of piece and telling me what pieces I needed, where each part should be placed, and what the finished set would be like. After I built my first set using her instructions, I wanted to give back to blind children, and give them access to an essential part of childhood.
Most important question! What is your most favorite LEGO structure that you have built so far and why?
My favorite structure I’ve built so far is the Lego Fairground Mixer. I’d often been on amusement park rides, but didn’t know how they worked, since I’m blind. The Fairground Mixer gives a fantastic and realistic depiction of something blind kids have experienced but haven’t fully engaged with, i.e the county fair, and is also great from an engineering standpoint, since it teaches them about gearing and gear ratios, since the ride actually spins.
What LEGO structure have you found to be the most challenging and why?
The Tower Bridge was a very challenging but rewarding set. It has over 4000 pieces so concentration was paramount to assembling it. It took a few months, to finish but it’s my proudest Lego achievement.
While reading through some of your instructions, we loved how detailed yet concise they are. How long does it typically take to create instructions for one LEGO set?
It depends on the complexity of the set. 10-dollar sets take about an hour to adapt, but larger sets can take weeks, or sometimes months to make accessible.
We noticed your link to LEGO.com. Are you working directly with the company now?
Yes, I’m working directly with Lego. I’m honored that they’ve taken up this project. They recently released text-based instructions for 4 of their sets, and will increase the number of accessible sets to 50 by the spring of 2020. You can learn more about their instructions at legoaudioinstructions.com.
We asked Matthew if he ever takes requests to make instructions for specific sets. He said that he does however it has been slow going the past couple of years. We are saddened to share that his friend Lilya passed away two years ago and now he has had to make the sets on his own. This is very difficult without continued sighted help. He is working on organizing a network of sighted volunteer instruction-writers. If you are interested in volunteering your sight and time for this wonderful cause you can contact Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are thrilled to be giving Matthew and legofortheblind.com a Shout-Out! Thank you for making the world more accessible!
Christina and John