Thank you for your interest in joining the National Federation of the Blind Dream Builders Capital Campaign. As you know, we have several important projects on the horizon. We want to share details of this project with you personally.

Program Focus

New and current members of all ages.

What’s at Stake

Blind people, having a low-incidence disability, are often disconnected from one another and might not receive the benefit of mentoring from more experienced blind people in their daily lives. The problem is exacerbated for those living in rural areas and for those for whom English is not their primary language.

How NFB Community Will Help

  • NFB Community is a proposed online platform through which interested parties can interact, face-to-face programming can be enhanced, information and data can be created and stored, and resources can be consolidated.
  • NFB Community will aim to enculturate new members into the NFB community, build new leaders, and encourage members to participate year-round.
  • NFB Community will connect members of the NFB community of practice in unique interactive ways. NFB Community brings together diverse and geographically dispersed populations.
  • NFB Community will facilitate more up-to-date demonstration and discussion opportunities around emerging technologies, and will provide support and feedback mechanisms between members and technology experts.
  • Local advocates will utilize NFB Community as a rich resource from which to draw upon for information on the education, rehabilitation, and employment systems that will enhance their own knowledge base.
  • NFB Community will exist as a resource to blind people seeking to enter into a specific profession, as other members in the community will be readily available to share lessons learned, specific techniques, and offer support.
  • NFB Community will extend any program of the NFB that currently exists and enhance the capabilities of any program to be developed to serve participants year-round.

Building the Program

We propose to begin this initiative with a minimal viable product so as to determine its utility and functionality before investing additional resources and time. A group of influencers will help to conceptualize the minimal viable product. These influencers will be the first to populate the platform with content so that when the first users come in, they are not faced with an empty room. We would need some who are youth-minded and some who are youth themselves, particularly for the under-thirteen program.

The project will have two technological components that will appear as a single seamless interface to the user: NFB Community (user-to-user interactions) and the NFB Knowledge Base (curated resources from the Braille Monitor, Future Reflections, Kernel Books, YouTube, the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, etc.).

NFB Community

  • Peer-to-Peer Interaction: This will include threaded topic conversations, group room discussions, video conferencing, and private messages.
  • Ability to Up-Vote Discussion Threads: This user feedback will be incorporated into the knowledge base component.
  • Mentoring
  • Blogging
  • Tagged User Feature: If a user is referenced in a thread, that person is notified.
  • Front Page Content: The homepage will include news flash items and local affiliate or division news that users can self-select based on their interests.
  • Connection to Knowledge Base: Using tags and links, there will be a seamless transition from these discussions and interactions to the documents in the knowledge base, and vice versa.

Knowledge Base

  • Robust Search Function
  • Tagging
  • Annotation
  • Recommendations for Further Reading
  • Language: Users will be able to toggle between English and Spanish; we will need to prioritize and maximize materials translated into Spanish.

Technical and Backend Components

  • Accessibility: The interface will be non-visually accessible and users will be forced to post content that is alt-tagged.
  • Restricted Areas: For example, anyone will be able to view that the Teacher2Teacher micro-credential program is available, but only registered participants of that program will be able to enter and interact.
  • User Data: Data will include time spent online, what features/articles are used and length of time spent on each, and interactions. 
  • Leadership/Admin Dashboard: This will allow leadership for a particular affiliate to see who has been interacting online specific to their division, affiliate, etc. 
  • NFB Connections Integration

Strengthening the Program

Future uses for the proposed infrastructure could include:

  • Teacher2Teacher: This is a professional learning opportunity leveraging NFB Community and the NFB Knowledge Base to facilitate micro-credentialing for teachers of blind students.
  • NFB Kids Connect Program: The proposed project will provide a combination of face-to-face, online learning, and networking activities for blind children thirteen years of age and under in a safe, supportive, and supervised environment. 
  • Other NFB Programs: The NFB BELL Academy, NFB Leadership Seminars, the NFB Career Mentoring Program, and the Blind Parent Program could all benefit from this platform.

Evaluating the Program

The National Federation of the Blind will:

  • Administer initial focus groups of influencers to help evaluate the minimum viable product.
  • Review user data (e.g., logins, time spent in the platform).
  • Employ ongoing feedback mechanisms (e.g., surveys).

Resources and Personnel Needed

  • Project Manager
  • Content Experts
  • Significant NFB Organizational Technology Involvement
  • Developers
  • NFB Access Technology Team
  • Moderators
  • Other Personnel

Why the National Federation of the Blind

As America’s membership organization of the blind, the National Federation of the Blind has an extensive community already in place as well as more than seventy-five-years’ worth of knowledge to leverage. In addition, the National Federation of the Blind is already pursuing some hybrid face-to-face and online interactions through its NSF-funded NFB EQ program. This experience could be enhanced with more seamless connections to other programs.