Future Reflections  Winter/Spring 2007

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National Federation of the Blind makes
MATHCOUNTS Materials Accessible

Editor’s Note: Under the direction of public relations officer, John Paré Jr., the National Federation of the Blind has been blitzing the media in recent months with press releases about our many exciting new initiatives. To Paré, who was a blind leader of the NFB in Florida before he joined the national staff, writing these press releases is more than a job; it is an opportunity to share his personal belief in the programs of the NFB with the public. Here is a recent press release from his office about an initiative of interest to parents and teachers of blind children:

As part of its continuing effort to improve math education for blind students, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute announced shortly before the new year that it has partnered with the MATHCOUNTS Foundation to produce challenging mathematical materials in accessible formats. Through a contract with GH Braille <www.ghbraille.com/company>, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has prepared Braille-ready files of the 2006-2007 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook, which is used by teachers across the nation to supplement the middle school math curriculum and prepare students to participate in MATHCOUNTS competitions.

The Braille files of the MATHCOUNTS handbook contain both the full text of the book and tactile representations of the graphics contained in it, which can be printed with Braille embossers. Students or their teachers can download the Braille-ready MATHCOUNTS School Handbook from the Web site of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation at <http://www.mathcounts.org/>.

“The greatest challenge for blind students who want to excel in math is obtaining materials in accessible formats,” said Mark Riccobono, director of education for the Jernigan Institute. “By producing the MATHCOUNTS School Handbook in Braille, we are filling a need for supplemental math study materials and paving the way for blind students to participate in local, state, and national MATHCOUNTS competitions. Our goal is to help prepare blind students to pursue and excel in careers relating to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Larry Jacobson, Executive Director of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation, said: “We are very grateful to the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute for helping us fulfill our mission to increase enthusiasm for and enhance achievement in mathematics among all U.S. middle school students. The NFB provided the expertise necessary to make these materials accessible to blind students, making a valuable contribution not only to the education of the blind but to the advancement of mathematical education throughout society.”

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Blind students have traditionally been discouraged from pursuing the study of mathematics or hampered unnecessarily in their studies by the lack of accessible materials. We are committed to removing the barriers that limit the participation of blind students in math and science, and making the MATHCOUNTS School Handbook accessible is a manifestation of that commitment.”

MATHCOUNTS is the nation’s premier middle school math enrichment, coaching, and competition program. Each year, it provides every U.S. middle school with free creative curriculum materials meeting National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards for grades 6-8. With the generous support of all MATHCOUNTS sponsors and volunteers, and leadership of the National Society of Professional Engineers at the local and state levels, MATHCOUNTS is providing today’s students with the foundation for success in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics careers.


For more information about the efforts of the NFB Jernigan Institute to increase opportunities for blind students to access math and science instruction, please see the Web site <www.blindscience.org>. Mark Riccobono, Director of Education for the Jernigan Institute, may also be contacted at 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; (410) 659-9314, extension 2368; <mriccobono@nfb.org>.

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