The National Federation for the Blind’s Bell Program provides several programs and initiatives which focus on Education as education is the most urgent civil rights issue facing the blind in the 21st century. It is known that very few blind children receive Braille instruction for one reason or another. Almost 85% of blind children are Braille illiterate. This is not acceptable in our society today.
One of these NFB programs is The BELL program – Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning. BELL increases awareness and supports Braille literacy among blind children. The two week summer program provides intense Braille instruction and training to children who are not currently receiving the services they need during the regular school year. It is meant to serve students who are not currently receiving enough Braille instruction in school or who could benefit from Braille enrichment over the summer.
The program is designed to run Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m which operates like a regular school day. The schedule and activities were developed with the individual needs of the children in mind. The schedule allows for small group instruction, which provides children with the opportunity for more individual attention. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children may also enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL curriculum. A parent seminar will also accompany the program where parents can learn strategies to support their child in the learning and use of Braille. From this seminar parents can also gain valuable information to aid them in the empowerment of their child as they interact with other parents of blind children and successful blind adults.
As a parent of a six year old blind child I truly understand the need for early intervention, braille literacy and strong parent advocacy – literacy and independence would be the main keys to my daughter’s success and if I would like to support that for other children as well.
The two week program will be held at The Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI) and some of the expenses include, materials, transportation and a daily healthy lunch for the kids (an average of 18 children).