Bricks for the Blind (BFTB) is a non-profit organization that brings the joy of building LEGO® sets to blind people. By following BFTB’s free text-based instructions, people with visual impairments can build LEGO sets and enjoy hours of relaxation, independence, and empowerment.
How does BFTB work?
BFTB hires sighted people to write and blind people to test text-based instructions for LEGO sets. The instructions are offered free of charge on the BFTB website. Users download the instructions and then print them in Braille or use screen readers, magnifiers, or Braille computers to read them. With only a little help from a sighted person to sort the LEGO pieces at the start of the project, blind people can enjoy the thrill and relaxation of building the entire set on their own.
How much do BFTB instructions cost?
Nothing! All BFTB instructions are free!
I’m blind…can I really build a LEGO set on my own?
Yes! Once a sighted person has sorted the pieces you are good to go! Many blind people have built incredible creations by using BFTB’s instructions.
What if I don’t have a sighted person to help me sort the pieces by color?
You can use color-identifying smartphone apps such as Microsoft’s Seeing AI or Be My Eyes to help you use the correct colors.
What if I’ve never built a LEGO set before, don’t know what different pieces feel like, and don’t have sighted help?
You can use a remote assistance app like Aira or Be My Eyes to get help learning about the different pieces from a sighted person.
Who started Bricks for the Blind?
BFTB was started by Matthew Shifrin. Matthew was born blind, and when he was 13 years old a dear friend, Lilya Finkel, wrote and gave him text-based instructions to build a LEGO set. Matthew was amazed and thrilled that he could build the set by himself! Inspired by their success, Matthew and Lilya created instructions for other LEGO sets. After Lilya died from cancer, Matthew made it his personal mission to immortalize Lilya’s love and compassion by continuing their work and bringing it to as many blind people as possible. He has spent years working with others to write, test, and provide text-based instructions for LEGO sets. In the fall of 2023, Matthew officially created the non-profit organization called Bricks for the Blind (www.bricksfortheblind.org).
How many sets are available from BFTB?
In Q4 2023 there will be almost 100 sets.
Do I have to be familiar with LEGO sets to use Bricks for the Blind?
No. BFTB was designed so that novices as well as experienced LEGO builders can enjoy the thrill of LEGO sets.
How difficult are the sets to build?
They are as easy or as difficult as you want! BFTB provides instructions for sets with fewer than 100 pieces for new builders and up to 4,000 pieces for more experienced builders. You can build something quickly or “escape” for hours!
I’m new to LEGO bricks. What set should I start with?
Start with a small set and become familiar with LEGO sets and BFTB’s instructions. A few good examples are the Police Bike Car Chase (60392), Arctic Explorer Snowmobile (60376), and Hogwarts Polyjuice Potion Mistake (76386). The smaller the set, the easier it is to build.
Why do blind people like using Bricks for the Blind?
Just like all other LEGO fans, visually-impaired people enjoy the feeling of empowerment, creativity, and independence that comes from assembling LEGO sets on their own –and it’s fun! They love the Zen, child-like escape of building with LEGO bricks and the thrill of creating something awesome that they once thought was impossible. They are also able to “see” and understand the final creation more clearly because they built it with their own hands.
What is the relationship between BFTB and The LEGO Group?
BFTB is an independent, non-profit organization that has a cooperative working relationship with the LEGO Group. Both organizations share a mutual goal of bringing the joy of LEGO play to blind and vision impaired people. The LEGO Group provides LEGO Audio & Braille Instructions for selected sets, and BFTB provides text-based instructions for additional sets. Collectively, BFTB and the LEGO Group offer text-based instructions for a rapidly growing number of sets from various themes and levels of difficulty.
Does The LEGO Group provide their own text-based instructions for LEGO sets?
Yes. As of Q4 2023 the LEGO Group provides audio, braille, and text-based instructions for approximately 85 sets. When combined with BFTB’s instructions, there are now instructions for over 150 sets available for the visually impaired.
I’d like to write instructions, or I am a blind builder looking to build sets and check their instructions for errors. How can I get involved?
To get involved with BFTB, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you a guide that explains the instructions writing and set-testing process.
How is Bricks for the Blind funded?
BFTB is funded through the generous donations of anonymous donors. If you would like to become a donor, please contact email@example.com.
How can I help?
There are a few ways you can help BFTB:
• Become a BFTB writer or tester! We are always looking for sighted people to write instructions and blind people to test them. We provide monetary compensation for both testers and writers. If you are interested, contact us
• Spread the word! Tell everyone you know about BFTB. Use social media to link to our website and channels. We want every blind person to know that they can build LEGO sets.