The NFB Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy prepares blind and low vision children, ages four through twelve, to grow into confident and independent blind people who will live the lives they want. The program provides Braille and non-visual skills instruction through fun, hands-on learning in a day program or residential setting. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, interact with blind adults who serve as mentors, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum. Through these activities and interactions, the children learn that blindness or low vision does not define them or their future.
- Details about the NFB BELL Academy
- Participating States
- Apply Now
- Parent Testimonials
- NFB BELL Academy Contact Information
- Past NFB BELL programs
- NFB BELL in the Media
NFB BELL Academy provides children ages 4-12 with intense Braille instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities. NFB BELL Academy targets blind and low-vision children who do not receive enough Braille and nonvisual skill instruction in school or who could benefit from Braille enrichment over the summer. NFB BELL Academy typically runs Monday through Friday for six hours each day for two weeks. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, benefit from peer learning and mentoring from blind adults, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum.
Please find below a list of NFB BELL Academy sites for the summer of 2017. To learn more about the individual programs which were held in each state, please select that state's link.
"I learned that I can support and encourage her while allowing her to be independent; but it isn't helpful to "save" her. I was able to see just how independent she could be if she was allowed. This was the most positive program/experience we have ever been involved in. Incredible resource for us both."
"I appreciate that he wanted to do more and learn more, the way it was taught was fun and exciting so it made him more excited about it."
"NFB BELL stimulated my daughter's interest in studying Braille. She is now aware of Braille in her environment. She asked after seeing Braille on the train ticket dispensers 'Is Braille that popular?'"
"He learned he can make his own meals and has been asking to pack his own lunch ever since."
"At NFB BELL this summer, my girls got to draw and color on a tactile drawing board that made crayon marks textured."
"He loved the field trips. NFB BELL encourages him to be independent and improve his use of his white cane."
"My son learned there were many students learning Braille, he enjoyed meeting adults and learning of their occupations, and he progressed in his Braille reading and writing skills and new skills like abacus counting and use of the slate and stylus and O&M skills because of the constant reinforcement."
For all other questions about the NFB BELL Academy, please contact:
Carlton Anne Cook Walker
Manager of Braille Education Programs
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2225
The NFB thanks the following organizations for their generous support of NFB BELL Academy:
2016 NFB BELL Academy
More than three hundred students grew in nonvisual skills and self-confidence at forty-five NFB BELL Academy sites in thirty states.
2015 NFB BELL
NFB BELL kept growing in 2015, with thirty-seven programs in twenty-five states.
2014 NFB BELL
In 2014, NFB BELL grew once more when twenty-four states hosted thirty-two programs. Read about several of these programs in the November 2014 issue of the Braille Monitor.
2013 NFB BELL
In 2013, NFB BELL expanded to twenty-nine programs in twenty-one states. Several of these programs are featured in the November 2013 issue of the Braille Monitor.
2012 NFB BELL
2012 brought eighteen NFB BELL programs in eleven states. The new states are featured in this Future Reflections article.
2011 NFB BELL Academy
In 2011, NFB BELL kept getting bigger and was held at eleven sites in seven states. Learn about the 2011 NFB BELL Program in the Braille Monitor.
2010 NFB BELL
In 2010, NFB BELL grew yet again and this time by threefold. Five states held six NFB BELL programs in 2010 and reached sixty blind children. Read about the 2010 NFB BELL Program in the Braille Monitor.
2009 NFB BELL
After its adoption by the NFB Jernigan Institute, the NFB BELL program was piloted in the summer of 2009. Two affiliates—Maryland and Georgia—hosted the program with great success. Learn more about the 2009 NFB BELL program in the Braille Monitor.
2008 BELL Academy in Maryland
Members of the Maryland affiliate developed the BELL program and ran the program for the first time in the summer of 2008. The program was a great success and was adopted by the NFB Jernigan Institute for further development.
- The Lincolnton, North Carolina NFB BELL was featured in the Lincoln Herald.
- The Idaho Falls NFB BELL Academy was featured in the Idaho State Journal and on the local news channel, KPVI News 6.
- NFB BELL of the District of Columbia is featured in this YouTube video.
- NFB BELL in New Jersey’s video describes its program.
- A Beep Kickball game at the NFB BELL in South Carolina.
- BELL Ringers in Louisiana produced a great music video: “All About That Braille” in this YouTube video.
- Listen to the NFB BELL panel presented at the 2013 national convention of the NFB in Orlando, Florida.