Small yellow bumble bee flies between two pink flowers

The Braille Pals Buzz

Volume 4, Issue 5

What’s Buzzing with the NFB Braille Pals Team?

In April, the NFB Jernigan Institute hosted the Tactile Graphics Conference—the first event of its kind held in the United States. A crowd of people from all over the world came to Baltimore to learn about the latest and greatest in the area of tactile graphics. Hot topics like 3D printing and Web tools for sharing image descriptions were discussed. You can read an overview of the event on the NFB access technology blog. Additionally, papers from the presentations at the NFB Tactile Graphics Conference will be published in the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research.

Sighted children learn to read pictures at a very young age—such a young age, in fact, that we generally don’t think about teaching picture literacy to our children. Due to a lack of access to tactile graphics, blind children frequently do not learn how to read pictures as young children. Consequently, blind children are frequently taught to read pictures when the issue becomes unavoidable in the math or science curriculum. Blind students who have to learn how to read a picture at the same time that they are learning the concepts of geometry, for example, are at a huge disadvantage as compared to their sighted peers. We know that tactile graphics are an essential part of an accessible learning environment for a blind child. Make sure that you know what resources, tools, and services exist in the area of tactile graphics, and ensure that your child has access to them from a very young age. By doing this you will ensure that your child isn’t burdened with learning how to read a picture in geometry class when he/she needs to focus on the concepts of geometry.

If you have questions about tactile graphics, please do not hesitate to contact Natalie Shaheen at [email protected] or Clara Van Gerven at [email protected].

The national convention of the NFB is just around the corner—July 1 to 6, 2013. Preregistration closes May 31, 2013; register today to take advantage of early bird discounts at

Literacy Hints from the Hive

Children are naturally inquisitive and curious beings. Sometimes their curiosity gets them into mischief, but if we provide the right type of opportunities we can help them put their curiosity to work in a constructive way. Science is the perfect vehicle for exercising a child’s inquisitive brain. In science it is important to document your predictions and observations, so it is very easy to incorporate literacy into scientific exploration.

Below are a few examples of how to engage your young child in scientific inquiry.

When doing experiments with your child, be sure to take the time to make predictions about what will happen and then make observations about what did happen. Work with your child to document your predictions and observations. Here are some ideas of how you and your child can document your scientific inquiry:

How do you and your child combine curiosity, science, and literacy at home? Share your ideas so we can share them with other parents!

Sweet Sweet Braille

One Email at a Time,” published in the Winter 2013 issue of Future Reflections, is an article written by a mother of a blind child who became a teacher of the blind. Stacey Hildenbrand writes about how she came to view blindness as just a characteristic, and how she is working hard to help the general public come to see blindness in the same way by sharing Kernel Book stories via e-mail.

The Kernel Book series offers a wide range of stories showcasing the lived experiences of blind people from diverse backgrounds. You can access all thirty Kernel Books online or order them in print or Braille from the NFB’s Independence Market. If you have a print and Braille copy of a story, you and your child can read together!

Now that you have received your Braille copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we would like to know about your experience with this new resource. Were the instructions clear? Did you have any trouble assembling the book? Were you able to read along with your child? Do you have any ideas for future books? Please send your feedback to [email protected]. In the future, we will be trying to find books that you should be able to find at your local library for those who do not already own these books.

Braille Book Review

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
By Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
Available in Braille from National Braille Press

This classic picture book tells the story of a group of alphabet children who have a grand time climbing a coconut tree. The words of the book are written in a sing-song manner, making the book particularly fun to read. You can download the song that goes with the book and enjoy the story even when the book isn’t within arm’s reach.

This book can be a great catalyst for a plethora of alphabet learning activities:

Picture of a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

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 NFB.

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 they 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 older readers, the AAF has 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 NFB 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 AAF. For more information please contact:

NFB Braille Reading Pals Club
NFB Jernigan Institute
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 e-mail to [email protected] to update contact information for the 2013 program.