Braille Monitor                                                 April 2011

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Introducing The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research

by Fredric K. Schroeder

Fred SchroederFrom the Editor: Here are an important announcement and introduction by NFB First Vice President and San Diego State University Research Professor Dr. Fredric Schroeder. Fred is chief editor of this new online journal. Dr. Edward Bell and Dr. Matthew Maurer are the associate editors, and Jernigan Institute Executive Director Mark Riccobono is the managing editor.

The organized blind in the United States have insisted for more than seventy years that we know what’s best for us and that we’re capable of managing our own affairs. The growth of the NFB and the increasing adoption of the rehabilitation techniques pioneered by Kenneth Jernigan testify to our success in making that point.

Nonetheless, an arena remains in which we still have to demonstrate our knowledge and understanding. Several major intellects have been associated with the NFB—some of whom struggled hard to gain positions in academic institutions—starting with Jacobus tenBroek, himself. Until recently, though, blind university professors proved their mettle in fields not directly connected with blindness. Similarly, only in the last few decades have blind educators moved into work involving blind children and adults.

The growing presence of the organized blind (and our sighted allies) in these key areas—university departments, primary and secondary schools, and rehabilitation programs—takes us to a new level. We now have the certified expertise to demonstrate the depth of our knowledge to those who still do not believe that the blind know more about blindness than do self-appointed sighted experts.

The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research is the embodiment of that expertise. An online only, open-access (meaning free to anyone), scholarly publication, the JBIR is published by the NFB. It is edited by a team of blind and sighted professionals who are committed to exploring means of enhancing the independence of all blind people.

Some have asked why the NFB needs a new journal. Hasn’t the Braille Monitor served us well for more than fifty years? The answer to this reasonable question is that our monthly magazine—published in Braille, print, audio, and online—serves a different purpose from the new, online-only journal. Moreover, the intended audiences of the two publications are not identical. The Braille Monitor is, and will remain, a general magazine about blindness, the struggles of the blind, and advances that the blind have made. It is a place for news; discussions of Federation philosophy; glances at the history of the blind; and proposal of new ideas about education, training, and technology.

JBIR, on the other hand, is the place where we—and others who are seriously interested in exploring blindness—will publish articles that meet the standards of academic discourse. This means that research-based articles must use recognized research methods and appropriate statistical analysis. Articles based on the experience of practitioners (primarily school teachers, orientation and mobility instructors, rehabilitation counselors, etc.) must be persuasive and provide documentation. Above all, articles published in JBIR must pass a rigorous peer-review process. This means that all papers submitted to JBIR (except for opinion pieces) will be sent to people with expertise for their opinions on whether or not to publish and, if so, what changes the author should make. In the peer-review process, the author and referees remain unknown to one another. The editors will make final decisions about whether to publish, but their decisions will always be informed by the knowledge and experience of the peer reviewers. Like a growing number of other online scholarly journals, JBIR also allows for timely posting of reasoned and knowledgeable responses to articles.

The fundamentals of NFB philosophy have always been behind the Federation’s approach to education, training, legislation, and technology development. In almost every case our approach has turned out to be superior in practice. JBIR will give us—and others interested in a friendly, fact-based dialogue—the opportunity to test our ideas in the broader world of academia.

The editors invite you to participate in this exciting new venture. The Web address of the journal is <www.nfb-jbir.org>. Once you’re on our Website, please sign up as a subscriber and consider volunteering as a peer reviewer. Researchers and practitioners who have something to say to the academic community should consider submitting articles to JBIR.