Brick by Brick,
Letter by Letter:

Braille Literacy
Enhanced by Machine Learning

Welcome to 6-dot brick, an innovative iOS app designed to revolutionize
Braille literacy education for visually impaired individuals.

With this app, learning the Braille alphabet becomes an engaging and interactive experience,
combining the tactile nature of LEGO© bricks
with the power of object detection and text-to-speech technology

Problem

While the Braille alphabet offers numerous advantages for visually impaired individuals, there are existing challenges in learning it effectively.

Solution

Introducing an innovative application that enables visually impaired individuals to learn the Braille alphabet independently, tapping into a fun and interactive experience. By utilizing text-to-speech and object detection technologies, the app fosters skill development, enhances fine motor abilities, and eliminates the need for facilitator support.

Target Group

This app is designed for both children and adults with visual impairments who wish to learn the Braille alphabet, as well as individuals without visual impairments who are interested in acquiring Braille literacy.

Method

By harnessing the power of affordable LEGO© parts, along with object detection and text-to-speech functionalities, the app provides an accessible and engaging platform for Braille learning. It combines tactile exploration, auditory feedback, and interactive features to create an immersive and effective learning experience for all users.

Braille Literacy Reinvented:

Empowering Minds with Bricks and Machine Learning

Section 1

Users can learn the alphabet through phonetic words from A to Z,
accompanied by sound effects
that serve as helpful hints
for the phonetic word.

Section 2

The app initiates audio narration
to introduce the Braille equivalents
for various characters,
encompassing letters, numbers,
and punctuation marks.

Section 3

Users have the opportunity to design random letters, numbers, or punctuation marks using LEGO© parts. They can then showcase their creation to the camera, and the app will accurately verify its correctness.

Section 4

Users are encouraged to design the missing Braille letter in a random word using LEGO© parts. They can then show the design to the camera, and the app will verify its correctness using advanced object detection technology.

Create, Touch and Learn!

How to make Braille letters

using 2x3 LEGO© brick and LEGO© round tiles

Creating Braille letters using LEGO© bricks can be a fun and effective way to introduce the Braille alphabet. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make Braille letters using 2×3 LEGO© brick and LEGO© round tiles:

Materials Needed:

a single 2×3 LEGO© brick
five LEGO© round tiles (preferably in a contrasting color)

Brick 2×3 EUR 0.17
Round Tile 1×1 EUR 0.04
Total 0.17 + (5 x 0.04) = EUR 0.37

Source: Lego Pick a Brick & Bricklink average prices, September 2023.

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Braille Alphabet
Before starting, familiarize yourself with the Braille alphabet and its corresponding symbols. Each Braille letter is represented by a unique arrangement of raised dots in a Braille cell comprising six dots arranged in two columns of three.

Step 2: Construct the Base
Take a 2×3 LEGO© brick as the base for each Braille letter. This brick will serve as the foundation for arranging the round tiles representing the Braille dots.

Step 3: Arrange the Round Tiles
On top of the 2×3 LEGO© brick, place LEGO© round tiles to represent the dots of each Braille letter. Each round tile will correspond to a specific dot position within the Braille cell.

Step 4: Mapping the Braille Dots
Determine the dot arrangement for each letter. Braille letters are composed of a combination of up to six dots, arranged in two columns of three.

Step 5: Attach Round Tiles
Attach the LEGO© round tiles to the 2×3 LEGO© brick according to the dot arrangement for each Braille letter. Press them firmly onto the studs of the brick to ensure they stay in place.

Step 6: Repeat for Other Letters
Repeat the process for each letter of the Braille alphabet, constructing the 2×3 LEGO© brick base and attaching the round tiles in the appropriate dot configuration.

Step 7: Explore and Learn
Once you’ve created Braille letters using LEGO© parts, encourage tactile exploration and learning. Users can trace their fingers over the round tiles to feel the raised dots, reinforcing the association between the Braille letters and their corresponding shapes.

Using LEGO© parts to create Braille letters provides a hands-on and interactive approach to learning.

Position your phone's camera to capture the LEGO© pieces.
Let's create characters together.

Braille empowered:

Learning the Language of Touch with 6-dot brick

Key Features

Braille Alphabet Learning

The app provides a comprehensive curriculum for learning the Braille alphabet, covering all letters and symbols

Lego Brick Construction

Users can physically construct each Braille letter using a single 2×3 LEGO© brick and five round tiles, creating a tangible representation of Braille characters.

Enhance Fine Motor Skills

Improve fine motor skills, coordination, and tactile sensitivity through the physical manipulation of LEGO© bricks and round tiles.

Object Detection

The app utilizes cutting-edge object detection technology to detect and interpret LEGO© creations, providing real-time feedback and guidance.

Language Options

Start your Braille journey in either English or Turkish, with plans to expand and include more languages in future updates.

Independent Learning

No facilitator support needed! The app empowers users to learn at their own pace, boosting confidence and self-reliance.

Low-Cost Materials

All you need are common one 2×3 LEGO© brick and 5 round tiles, which are affordable and easy to find.

Text-to-Speech Integration

Seamlessly integrated text-to-speech technology provides audio guidance, making the app accessible to all users.

Engaging Exercises

Practice your Braille skills with interactive exercises designed to reinforce learning and improve proficiency.

Experience Braille Learning in Your Language:
English and Turkish Available Now,
Danish Coming Soon!

This app holds great importance as it aims to provide access to Braille learning for a wider audience. Currently, the app offers language options in Turkish and English, with plans to expand and include more languages in future versions. Stay tuned for future updates as we strive to bring the power of Braille learning to learners of all languages, one step at a time.

App Screenshots

Developer’s Diary

Designed by a LEGO® enthusiast and Apple WWDC'23 Swift Student Challenge Scholar

July 2016

In July 2016, my journey began. I was only 8 years old when I discovered the significance of Braille during a visit to the Berlin’s German Museum of Technology with my family. There, I witnessed how tactile experiences, Braille reading, and auditory cues enhanced learning for visually impaired individuals.

September 2016

After returning from Berlin to İzmir, my curiosity about Braille persisted. In September, my family took me to The Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Turkey, where I sought answers from experts and delved deeper into the world of Braille.

December 2019

My passion for technology led me to follow Apple’s developments and annual WWDC events. This journey introduced me to the Turkishkit team, formed by previous Apple WWDC Swift Student Challenge winners. In December 2019, I learned about free coding workshops held in İzmir for Swift and Xcode. The registration for these workshops was initially open only to high school and university students, while I was just 11 years old and in the 5th grade. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. I sent an email, shared my coding training and certificates, and asked if I could join the workshops. To my surprise, I received a very positive response, and they told me that age wouldn’t be a barrier, and they would approve my registration.

I was excited because it would be my first-time receiving education from people older than me. However, it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I had a fantastic educational period with an extraordinary team. Emirhan, Sergen, Berkin, and Ataberk from the Turkishkit team not only welcomed me like a brother but also provided tremendous support for me to learn coding. I had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. After this training, I also joined the Turkishkit Academy, which lasted for two months.

As a gesture of gratitude, I designed their logo using LEGO® bricks. This was the beginning of my Swift journey and my dream of attending WWDC

October 2020

When I was 12 years old, I visited the Disability Awareness Center in İzmir. I experienced and understood the challenges faced by disabled individuals firsthand. After this visit, I began to dream: to use the coding and electronic skills I had been acquiring since childhood to create meaningful projects for people with disabilities.

March 2021

After my visit to the Disability Awareness Center, I combined my knowledge of Arduino and coding with my passion for LEGO® to create my first project. Inspired by the special needs I witnessed at the center, I designed a smart traffic light system that adapts to the unique requirements of disabled individuals, compatible with RFID cards. Although I didn’t win any awards in the competition where I presented this project, it was very special to me because it was my first project, and I experienced the joy of creating something useful.

Subsequently, I received awards for three different coding projects, which taught me the process of project development. I combined all my projects with my passion for LEGO®, making my projects enjoyable.

Smart Test Book

Internet-of-Things-Based Smart Faucet System

July 2022

July 2022 marked a turning point. I had heard about the “Learning Through Play with LEGO® Braille Bricks” course offered by The LEGO Foundation, but I waited until after my high school entrance exam to begin this course. As soon as my exam was over, I enrolled in this 8-week program, which required 2 hours per week. After successfully passing the certificate exam for the course, I earned a certificate.
You can access my certificate from here.

By taking this course, I acquired the necessary skills to organize activities for visually impaired individuals using the LEGO® Braille Bricks set.

August 2022

In the summer of 2022, I traveled to London for a one-month-long summer camp. After obtaining my “Learning Through Play with LEGO® Braille Bricks” certificate, I sent an email to The Lego Foundation. I kindly requested to visit their London headquarters and obtain one LEGO® Braille Bricks set, which is only available to 20 official partners and is distributed for free to organizations. My intention was to bring it back to Turkey for my visually impaired friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a response to my email, as they likely receive numerous request emails like mine. Nonetheless, I decided to try my luck.

During my one day off from the summer camp in London, I visited the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), one of the 20 official partners. There, I had the opportunity to examine the LEGO® Braille Bricks set in person.

I also obtained the first Braille LEGO® book, “DK Braille: LEGO® DUPLO: Farm.” It was at that moment when I began to contemplate what I could do to contribute.

September 2022

LEGO® sets have played a significant role in my life, from my childhood up to the present. They’ve significantly contributed to my motor skills, fueled my imagination, deepened my interest in technology, sparked my passion for collecting and even my interactions with friends, including my little sister. As a devoted LEGO® enthusiast and collector, I owe a great deal to these iconic plastic bricks.
Having personally witnessed the benefits of LEGO® sets and gaining insights into how LEGO® enhances tactile learning through the “LEGO® Braille Bricks” course, I was well aware of its tremendous potential to benefit my visually impaired friends. Using these benefits of LEGO®, I thought about how I could make a useful social contribution, so I reviewed previous research, examined existing patents and reviewed pilot studies. After making these assessments, I decided to develop an application that:

  • Could be easily accessed by all visually impaired friends,
  • Was cost-effective, using a minimal number of readily available parts,
  • Could be downloaded for free from the App Store,
  • Provided instant feedback through machine learning and object detection, enabling individual learning without
    the need for instructor support,
  • Offered various language options to reach a broader user base,
  • Simplified learning with voice notifications and sound effects,
  • Was enjoyable for both visually impaired and sighted individuals,
  • Included exercises for users to reinforce their learning,
  • Was fun and engaging.

January 2023

To seek feedback on my application, I initially shared it with several individuals and organizations. First, I presented it to Mrs. Müjde Kartov, who is my guidance counselor from my school, American Collegiate Institute and the advisor for the Unhindereds Club. Through Mrs. Müjde Kartov’s assistance, I established a connection with the board of directors of The Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Turkey. I’d like to express my deep appreciation to Mrs. Müjde Kartov for her unwavering support throughout this process.

I must also extend my gratitude to Mr. Oktay Ünal, my academic coordinator and teacher, as well as to Boran Duman, my student advisor from the senior class. Their guidance and continuous motivation have been invaluable in this endeavor.

Following my communication with the board of directors of The Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Turkey (TÜRGÖK https://www.turgok.org ), I had the opportunity to give them a presentation. This allowed me to meet some truly remarkable individuals. The Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Turkey was founded by the late Mr. Gültekin Yazgan, who, in addition to being visually impaired, was a lawyer and a teacher. After his passing, Mrs. Tülay Yazgan, his wife, assumed the role of board chairperson. Their remarkable life stories have been documented in the book “Onlar Benim Kahramanım” (“They Are My Heroes”) by Mr. Doğan Cüceloğlu. Furthermore, Mr. Gültekin Yazgan personally chronicled his journey in his book “Kör Uçuş” (“Blind Flight”). These books have been graciously signed and presented to me by Mrs. Tülay Yazgan. These signed book gifts have filled me with immense pride.

In addition to Mrs. Tülay Yazgan, other board members have been a source of inspiration and have made valuable contributions. They provided insightful feedback and innovative ideas, even suggesting the possibility of printing my project’s content as tactile books. Thanks to their support, I was able to form a working group with my visually impaired friends. This marks the beginning of the most memorable and meaningful phase of my project.

February 2023

While studying with my visually impaired friends and teaching them Braille using LEGO® parts, I gained valuable insights from them. This experience has been exceptionally meaningful and will always be close to my heart. Collaborating with my younger friends, possibly because I have a little sister, added an extra layer of enjoyment. Although I have a strong passion for LEGO® design, which has been my most joyful activity since childhood, what brought me true happiness was creating LEGO® designs with my friends and witnessing their joy as they touched objects and understood their meaning.

Thanks to them, I was able to identify the areas in my application that needed improvement and received valuable feedback. To be honest, I haven’t been able to implement some of the improvement suggestions they pointed out yet. At the age of 15, my coding skills aren’t advanced enough for some of their ideas. I know that in 10 years, after I complete my engineering studies, I’ll have the expertise to fulfill all their requests. However, it’s essential to me to make these improvements before my friends grow older. For this reason, developing and updating this app with new versions is of great importance to me.

Especially when I think about the words of Mr. Ole Kirk Christiansen at the entrance of Lego House in Denmark, it further motivates me to enhance my app.

“Det bedste Er Ikke For Godt.”
“Only the best is good enough.”

Additionally, while working with my friends, we realized that the tactile nature of LEGO® parts is actually well-suited for them, leading us to brainstorm different application ideas. Exciting new apps are in the works!!!

May 2023

In April, I applied for the Apple WWDC Swift Student Challenge with my app. On May 9, 2023, I received an email announcing the results of the application. My heart was racing as I opened it, and I learned that I had won!!! As a result, I received various gifts from Apple, a one-year scholarship for the Apple Developer Program, and most importantly, the opportunity to attend the Apple Event taking place from June 5th to June 10th. This includes access to product launches and training sessions, the ability to download developer versions, and the chance to receive one-on-one mentoring from Apple experts.

To celebrate this wonderful news, I visited The Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Turkey, and we marked the occasion by having a cake. I also designed the TÜRGÖK logo using embossed LEGO® parts to express my gratitude.

June 2023

I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the Apple Event at Apple Park in California physically, but even though I was a bit disappointed about not being there in person, it turned out to be the most unforgettable event of my life. I had previously received the first prize from TÜBİTAK, the most prestigious project competition in Turkey, but to be honest, I hadn’t been this excited before. Those 5 days were incredibly productive for me. I attended various workshops and made friends from all around the world who were incredibly knowledgeable. Since I was the youngest among the participants I met, everyone I met was very helpful to me.

Due to the time difference, the sessions coincided with late hours in Turkish time. I had taken permission from my school, thinking I would sleep during the day and attend the sessions at night. However, it didn’t turn out that way at all because I was so excited that I didn’t even feel sleepy during the daytime.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the one-on-one lab sessions, but they treated me so well and put me at ease, making it a very enjoyable experience. The one-on-one lab sessions I participated in were as follows:

  • App Store Business & marketing lab
  • Machine learning & Computer vision lab
  • Accessibility design lab
  • RoomPlan lab

I asked for their suggestions on areas where I need to improve my app, and they provided valuable insights. One of the Apple experts also emphasized the importance of being aware of the areas where I need to grow and testing with potential users. I received recommendations for my future app ideas as well. I can’t wait to apply for future WWDC events. I hope that next time, I can participate at Apple Park and create new memories.

July 2023

After the dream-like week of WWDC, I started preparing for the Oxbridge Engineering Camp at the University of Oxford, which was just 15 days away. I was at the University of Oxford from June 30th to July 28th, and to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to uploading my app to the App Store during that time.

Nevertheless, the engineering camp, which turned out to be highly beneficial for me, allowed me to make friends from all around the world. I worked on projects with valuable mentors and friends.

Thanks to the research methods lessons I received from my engineering instructor Ms. Carla V. Fuenteslópez, I believe I’ll be able to write my WWDC application report for future years much more easily. At the end of the engineering camp, I was honored to receive the “Engineering Prize for Outstanding Performance,” which is awarded to one student in every field every year. In my individual final project, I developed a project for preschool children and Alzheimer’s patients.

August 2023

When I returned from the University of Oxford, receiving the award package from Apple was a tremendous source of motivation.

Even though I had come back from the cool weather of London to the scorching August heat in İzmir, I was eager to wear my WWDC sweatshirt.

Fueled by this motivation, I made the final preparations to upload my app to the App Store. I uploaded it to the App Store on August 5th. To be honest, I thought it would be accepted, but it was rejected. When I saw the “Rejected” notification, I was initially disheartened. However, the email from Apple mentioned that their experts could provide support if I needed help solving the issues, and that was quite reassuring on its own. The rejection was due to two reasons: first, the permission request for camera access from users wasn’t clear and didn’t provide options in both English and Turkish, and second, my website lacked clarity. I immediately addressed the first issue. In August, I dedicated my time to completely redesigning my website to make it as explanatory as possible.

Then, on August 24th, The LEGO® Foundation announced that they would start to sell a LEGO® Braille Bricks set for visually impaired children to use at home with their families. It would be available in English (priced at $89.99 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) and in French (priced at €89.99 in France, Canada, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium) starting from September 1st in 10 countries. This news is indeed heartening for those who have the means to access and purchase this set.

September 2023

In September, after completingmy
website, I re-uploaded my app to the App Store. I eagerly awaited a response, and finally, the e-mail I had been waiting for arrived: “Welcome to the App Store.” I was overjoyed, practically on cloud nine! Now, my app is available for free download on the App Store!!!

The total cost of the LEGO® parts is only EUR 0.37 / TRY 7.53. My goal for the future is to further develop my app with additional language options to reach a wider user base and to assist all users who have difficulty acquiring the LEGO® parts.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. The true developers of this application are my visually impaired friends who used this app during the testing phase and supported it with their feedback. The feedback, whether positive or negative, from all users who download it from the App Store is highly valuable to me.

Let’s work together to improve our 6-dot brick app!

Building Literacy, One Brick at a Time

Discover 6-dot brick

Learn Braille with LEGO© parts and Touch! Engage in a tactile learning experience like never before. Construct the Braille alphabet using LEGO© bricks and unleash your potential. Build fine motor skills, tap into the power of touch, and learn independently.

Download now and embark on an interactive journey to Braille literacy!

Unlock the Power of Braille with a Brick and Machine Learning!

Join our growing community of visually impaired individuals and Braille enthusiasts who are embracing this innovative learning experience.

6-dot brick is more than just an app;
it’s a community of visually impaired individuals, educators, and supporters who believe in the power of Braille literacy. 

Connect with us on social media, share your success stories, and be part of a movement that promotes inclusivity and independence through Braille education.

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CONTACT

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