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Combine LEGO Braille Bricks with a PERKINS Machine

Literacy3 min read

How to go from learning Braille characters to writing Braille? Anne Jacobsen from Denmark has imagined a tool entirely made of LEGO to prepare her students to use a Perkins machine.

Written by Anne Jacobsen from Denmark, vision consultant from CSU-Slagelse

Dec. 21. 2022

Perkins brailler used with  sample letter in LEGO Braille Bricks

Learn the correct finger position for Perkins with a LEGO swing cell

It may be a good idea to combine a Perkins machine and LEGO Braille Bricks to teach the student to write Braille. To learn the correct finger position for Perkins, the student uses a swing cell made of LEGO. That way, it's easier to transfer LEGO Braille bricks to Perkins.

To start with, the student must copy a letter onto a small plate with 6 fields.

This is done by taking some small things from the bowl or bag, feeling what they are, and putting them onto the fields on the plate

Afterwards, the student must copy the letter onto a swing cell.

First photo: hands of a child attaching some lego bricks. On the table there is a fabric bag, a small braille cell made of lego, showing dot 1 and 5 and a letter e LEGO Braille Bricks. Second photo: hand of a child reading and comparing The LEGO Braille Bricks and the braille cell.

Once the letter has been copied onto the swing cell, the cell is set up on the Perkins machine.

With the swing cell, the student can easily feel where to put his fingers on the Perkins machine.

How to build a swing cell?

Photo of all the spare parts needed to build a swing cell with regular LEGO

A swing cell is built up of:

  • 1 piece hinge plate 1x2

  • 2 pieces flat tile 1x1

  • 6 pieces plate 1x1

  • 2 pieces 1x2 plate

  • 2 pieces 1x4 plate

The parts are assembled as follows:

Hinge plate is separated slightly and 1x2 plate is placed in extension of each "leg". On top of hinge plate and 1x2 plate put 1x4 plate so hinge plate has long "legs". This plate is the basic element of the swing cell.

At the bottom of each "leg" on swing cell put 1x1 flat tile so that the swing cell only has 6 free dots. 1x1 plates are put on these 6 dots depending on which letter is to be displayed. If it is an A, only a 1x1 plate is placed on the top dot on the left "leg". If it is T that is to be displayed, place 1x1 plate on dot 2 and 3 on the left “leg” and 1 and 2 on the left "leg", these correspond to dots 4 and 5.

Activity

The student is given a LEGO Braille Brick and the swing cell. With practice, the student can put 1x1 plates on the swing cell using the LEGO Braille Brick. By separating the swing cell from each other, the student can convert LEGO Braille bricks to the correct hand position in relation to writing.

Photo of child's hand reading braille on a perking brailler and on LEGO Braille bricks

Tip

So that LEGO Braille Brick and swing cell don’t get lost when the student writes on Perkins, it may be a good idea to put a 6x12 plate on Perkins. It is easily attached with double-sided velcro.

I have chosen to attach a small lego plate to the Perkins machine with velcro. In this way, it is easy to control the swing cell.

Photo of a Perkins brailler with a small lego plate attached on top of it.

Watch the video of a complete activity to familiarize a student with writing on a Perkins machine. This video was made by Anne Jacobsen, vision consultant from CSU-Slagelse

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