Small yellow bumble bee flies between two pink flowers

The Braille Pals Buzz

Volume 4, Issue 4

What’s Buzzing with the NFB Braille Pals Team?

Applications for the NFB BELL program are now live! The NFB BELL program is a two-week summer Braille enrichment program that serves children ages four to twelve in twenty-one states across the country. One parent, whose child participated in the NFB BELL program last summer, had this to say about the program: “Besides Braille exposure, the most valuable thing my child gained at the NFB BELL program is increased confidence. I can’t believe the change in her attitude and initiative since attending the program. Thank you so much for providing this program! It is an absolute fantastic opportunity for all children and I highly encourage parents to seek it out next year.” Visit to learn more about the NFB BELL programs near you and to apply.

The national convention of the NFB, to be held in Orlando, Florida, is just around the corner—July 1 to 6, 2013. There will be a plethora of wonderful learning opportunities for blind children and their parents, not to mention thousands of successful blind adults to act as positive role models for your child! The Braille book flea market—an awesome event at which a wide variety of free Braille books are made available to blind children—also takes place at national convention. Preregistration closes May 31, 2013; hop online today to take advantage of early bird discounts at

Literacy Hints from the Hive

Spring has sprung and if the weather in your part of the country has been as nice as it has been here, chances are good that you and your child are looking for every possible excuse to get outside! There are many great ways to incorporate literacy into outdoor fun! If you are going on a picnic or taking a stroll to your favorite park, don’t forget to bring along your favorite print/Braille book!

If you have a swing set in your backyard or a playground nearby, write words, letters, or sentences in Braille on index cards, and tape them to various pieces of equipment where you know your child will place his/her hands (i.e. the railing by the steps, the walls of the slide, the monkey bars, or the chains on the swings). If your child is not identifying letters or words, you could just have him/her find the Braille, and then you can read the words/letters together. You might decide to tell your child you’ve done this and then make a game of seeing how many he/she can find or you might decide to keep it a secret and let your child discover the cards all on his/her own.

Another fun way to encourage exploration outside, while reinforcing literacy skills, is to initiate a scavenger hunt. You can opt for the traditional scavenger hunt where you have a list and wander around collecting the items on the list. Have your child read or help read the list and then race around finding all the items on the list! If you decide to collect the items on your list and take them home, you could turn the items into a great experience book with the found item and its name or a short sentence in Braille on each page.

One spin on the traditional scavenger hunt is to do a sound scavenger hunt. In this scavenger hunt you are looking for all kinds of fun noises. Since it’s spring (and hopefully the weather is nice) you can go looking for spring noises. In the winter you can also do this inside; it is particularly fun at large places like malls or hotels where there are all kinds of unique sounds. If you want to incorporate a little technology into your scavenger hunt, use your smartphone or a digital recorder to capture the sounds you discover.

Sarah, a mom who participates in Braille Reading Pals Club with her son, wrote to offer a fun way to do an egg hunt, which could be adapted for hunting anything! Here is what Sarah said: “This year, we are doing an egg scavenger hunt—I will give Jack a ‘hint’ written in Braille (just random Braille—he only knows a few of his Braille letters so far) that will lead him to the first egg. The hint will be ‘you can find the next egg where the dirty dishes go’ (dishwasher). At the end, he would find his Easter basket. The hunt is great for him because of the Braille and the problem solving—neither of which rely on his sight.”

The spring activity sheet, which you will receive in the mail soon, will feature scavenger hunt lists for both traditional and sound scavenger hunts.

Do you have a great activity or game you do with your child to encourage literacy? Follow Sarah’s lead and share your idea so others can benefit from your creativity!

Sweet Sweet Braille

In September, the NFB Jernigan Institute hosted the NFB Braille Symposium, which highlighted the most innovative work relating to Braille today. The February issue of the Braille Monitor featured articles from a number of the Braille Symposium presenters. Highlights include how Braille saved a blind chemist, how one teacher provides high-quality Braille instruction to blind students who are English Language Learners, and how a veteran teacher of the blind individualizes instruction for the diverse learners she serves.

Braille Book Review

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle
Available from Seedlings

This classic children’s book is perfect for spring! The caterpillar eats his way through a plethora of foods—there are even holes in the pages to represent the bites the caterpillar takes out of the various foods. This book is marvelous at reinforcing concepts like the days of the week as the caterpillar eats through a different food each day. The book is also great for practicing sequencing. After reading this fun spring book with your little one, try doing some of the following extension activities:

Eric Carle is a terrific children’s author. Do you have a favorite Eric Carle book? What activities do you and your child do after reading that book to extend the learning? Share your ideas!

You will receive a copy of the words to The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Braille with your spring activity page. If you already have a print copy of the book, you can let your child explore the Braille copy and read along with you as you read the print!

Buzzes and Tweets


The NFB has launched the Text2Give program, a fundraising effort focused on improving education and technology for blind Americans. The effort also supports other NFB initiatives. The Text2Give program enables anyone with a cellular telephone to give a $10 contribution by text message. The contributions will go to the NFB Imagination Fund, which supports the education, technology, and research projects of the NFB Jernigan Institute, as well as programs conducted by the fifty-two affiliates and over seven hundred local chapters of the Federation. The Imagination Fund supports a number of innovative programs. For example, some programs encourage blind youth to participate in scientific careers, while others help senior citizens adjust to vision loss. By encouraging friends, family, and others to text the word NFB to 85944, you can help raise critical funds for NFB programs at the local, state, and national level.

Follow @NFB_Voice on Twitter to get news and information from the National Federation of the Blind.

Follow @BrailleLiteracy on Twitter to get timely Braille news, information, and tips.

Become a friend of NFB Whozit on Facebook to stay current with all the new things happening at the NFB Jernigan Institute.

Books for Busy Bees

Sighted children have access to print books all around them. It is important to offer our blind children the same exposure. Here are several sources for obtaining Braille books:

The Braille Storybook Resources page has a comprehensive list of sources for Braille books.

NFB ShareBraille is a free service that facilitates the exchange of Braille books through a community-run library. Go online to trade your Braille books or to request books from other NFB ShareBraille users.

The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF) Each year the AAF breaks new ground by offering fresh and interesting titles and series that are sometimes overlooked in the Braille community. This year we are continuing the Step Into Reading: Step 3 series with books about history, friendship, giants, and transportation. Learn about everything from Francis Scott Key to trains to how to help the Earth in this easy-to-read series.

For our older readers we have a series of award-winning books entitled Club CSI. These titles are very popular with teachers, librarians, and students of all ages. Each book is a new mystery waiting to be solved. Can you solve the crime before the members of Club CSI? For more information about this program please contact:

American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF)
Free Braille Books Program
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2287
Fax (410) 659-5129
E-mail: [email protected]

The National Federation of the Blind Independence Market offers blindness-related literature, resources, and products as a service to individuals who are blind or experiencing vision loss, to their friends and families, and to the general public. For more information please contact:

NFB Independence Market
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2216
Fax: (410) 685-2340
E-mail: [email protected]

The Braille Reading Pals Club is sponsored in part by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) and the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF). For more information please contact:

NFB Braille Reading Pals Club
Jernigan Institute, National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410) 659-9314, extension 2312
Fax: (410) 659-5129
E-mail: [email protected]
Visit us at

Please send an email to [email protected] to update contact information for the 2013 program.