Legos: the joy of many childhoods! They help you learn to build and expand your creativity. Recently I heard more about accessible Lego instructions in audio and braille. I was so excited because I had just received a Lego set for the holidays: the Apollo 11 Moon Lander which made my inner scientist VERY happy.
I searched for a long time. It turns out those accessible instructions are REALLY hard to find! I still have no idea how to get there from the Lego website, or even if you can as it appears to be a completely separate website. I ultimately ended up just doing a quick search with keywords “Accessible Lego Instructions”. I found it on the 3rd hit on my search.
I was so excited! I was going to build my Legos! I searched through page after page of instructions; all 60 available offerings to be exact but my moon lander was not there. I am sad to report that none of the more advanced Lego collections that are used as display pieces were there. SO sad! I wanted big and exciting pieces.
I decided to look at some of the instructions anyways to see what this was all about. I chose an art studio because I recently learned that every floor in a Lego building set has it’s own furniture and layout. I had previously thought that the buildings should be fairly easy as they were just tall but my brother told me that they are not empty buildings at all but filled intricate ones full of life. This was quite a surprise to me which is why I selected this piece to look at.
I was a little disappointed when I read the directions. Step 1: “Open the box. this can be tricky; ask someone to help you!” Okay so maybe that was a bit of an oversight, so I read on to the next few steps only to find this: “The box contains a booklet with visual building instructions, a sticker set, and two plastic bags. They are labelled with the numbers 1 and 2. Ask a sighted person to help you find the correct bag!
Carefully open bag 1 and the small sub-bag in it. (The bag contains all bricks and pieces for mini-figure Andrea, her cat, a studio billboard and the ground floor of the art studio building.)
Before you start building, ask a sighted person to help you sort the pieces by color.”
It wasn’t “Use a color ID app to sort the pieces if needed” because some of us who are using the Braille instructions still have color vision. Clearly this was not meant to be an independent experience after all. I am saddened by the fact that people continue to look down on the blind as if we don’t have alternative techniques to compensate. I wish companies would start asking around on how to make accessible instructions instead of trying to do it themselves.
If anyone from Lego is reading this and would like to make an inclusive effort, I would love it! I can already see how much ViewPlus could help in this endeavor. We could work together to have Braille and tactile instructions available. We can make more inclusive comments about people’s abilities using alternative techniques. There has not and never will be an issue with asking for assistance when necessary in my book, but letting the public know about ways we can independently work on projects and understanding we ask for help when we feel we need it just like everybody else so it doesn’t need to be written out as the only option in instructions can help the world to be a better place.
For those of you wondering what I’m doing with that present, I sorted the pieces by color ID and am building it with my sighted brother reading the instructions and orienting me as needed. I’m doing a lot of the building while he describes the image. I believe it is possible to ask for help and to still be independent simultaneously, but the future can be brighter than it is right now so let’s go build a world where I can build by myself or with friends just like everyone else!