Future Reflections         Summer 2011

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Slate Pals
A Pen Pal Program for Children Who Read Braille

In this day of email, texting, and social networking, the idea of sending letters on paper through the postal system may seem charming, quaint, and woefully obsolete. Nevertheless, today's children still take delight in receiving real letters in the mailbox. The Slate Pals program, which began some twenty years ago, is still alive and well.

Established by Dr. Fred Schroeder while he served as director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, Slate Pals now operates under the auspices of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Slate Pals is a free program that matches children in grades kindergarten through twelve who wish to correspond by exchanging Braille letters. Some Slate Pals use Braille as their primary reading method, some are dual-media readers, and some are in the process of shifting to Braille from print. In recent years many sighted children have also requested blind Slate Pals who can help them learn Braille. Writing letters is a great way to encourage Braille literacy and help kids connect with others who may share their interests and experiences. Besides, it's a dying art that's well worth preserving!

Every year Slate Pals receives requests from children throughout the United States and Canada. Requests have also come from Denmark, Australia, Uganda, South Africa, Taiwan, Russia, and many other nations. Slate Pals are matched on the basis of age and interests, and an effort is made to match children from differing geographic regions.

If your child or student would like to take part in the Slate Pals program, complete the form on the following page (please print clearly!) If you prefer, you may submit the information by email to dkent5817@att.net. Children are very welcome to place a Slate Pal request themselves by sending a Braille letter. We'll look forward to hearing from you!

BRAILLE SLATE PALS
A Pen Pal Program for Braille Readers and Students Who Want to Learn Braille

Name:____________________________________________ Age:________ Grade: ________
Male    Female  (Circle one)
Address: ______________________________________City___________________________
State_____________________ Zip __________ If not the USA, Country __________________
Email: _______________________________  Phone: __________________________________

Parent(s) name and address if other than above:
__________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________

Interests/hobbies: _______________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

I would like (fill in number) _____Slate Pals.  
I would like my Slate Pals to be (fill in age range) ______________
I would like my Slate Pals to be (circle one):  male     female     both     no preference

Check one of the following:
    [  ]  I am blind/visually impaired.  I use Braille regularly at school and at home.
    [  ]  I am blind/visually impaired.  I read some print but am shifting to Braille.
    [  ]  I am sighted and would like to exchange letters in Braille with a blind
          Slate Pal.

(Please Print) Name of the person filling out this application, relationship to the child/student, and signature:
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

Signature: ____________________________________________________________________

Mail to:
Debbie Kent Stein
5817 North Nina Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60631

Phone: 773-631-1093  *  Email: dkent5817@att.net

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