Recently it was announced that Lego would be releasing it’s instructions in both braille and audio forms thus opening up their line of products to the blind community.
According to an article from Washington Post all this came about because Matthew Shifrin lobbied Lego to add more accessible instructions. Before he started working with Lego Shifrin apparently ran a website where he made custom instructions for pre-existing sets with a close friend.
Though Lego instructions are nothing compared to how difficult Ikea instructions are, they’re still pretty taxing for those who can’t see very well. I used to have to pull the instructions up on my phone or computer and zoom in (A LOT) to properly read them. So I appreciate Lego stepping up and making their products more accessible so that those who struggle with low vision or those who are blind can enjoy them.
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According to an investigation by CBS bad Braille is being found in major facilities across the U.S. Per the article there have been numerous complaints to the Justice Department’s Disability Rights division over bad or misleading Braille in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois as well as several other states. What’s alarming about this is that the places lacking in Braille are hospitals, public libraries, and U.S. public transportation systems like the Albuquerque bus system.Most blind/visually impaired who live on their own have no other way to get around other than the U.S. public transit system, so to know that some of those bus stations either don’t have Braille or that the Braille is incorrect is worrisome to say the least.
The article also mentions that a branch of the D.C. Public Library is has a huge lack of braille on signs and no Braille labeling for audio books, which is slightly infuriating see as audio books are one of the primary sources of entertainment for the blind. Hopefully this gets addressed but by the looks of it the government has known about this for awhile and has done nothing about it so unfortunately this will likely stay as it is unless they get serious push-back from advocates.
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Microsoft has filed a patent for a Xbox One controller with a braille accessory on the back that would make it possible for those who are low vision or blind to enjoy gaming. The patent (shown below) appears to show a normal Xbox One controller with a device that hooks onto the back that can display in-game text and dialogue in braille via a touch-pad on the back. .The device is equipped with six paddles, (three on either side of the touch pad), this allows players to be able to read and react to things happening inside the game at the same time. The device also appears to have speech to braille capabilities which could prove useful when you receive messages from other players.
As someone who is going blind I’m ecstatic about this. I tend to spend a lot of my free time gaming which has become harder and harder to do as my sight goes. So hearing that there will be an easy way to at least play simpler, text based games makes me genuinely happy. There is the question of how many developers will support the controller and which games it will end up working with, as well as if it will only work with more text based games like the turn-based Final Fantasy games, or if it will work with faster paced games like first person shooters or fighting games.
Of course this is all just speculation since it’s only a patent, but it seems likely given Microsoft’s continued dedication to their accessibility controller they released last year.