How does the NFB go about solving a problem? First we determine its priority, and then we attack it on multiple fronts. Too many children are not learning to read and write Braille; the school systems they attend are supposed to provide this teaching. So we press the schools; work for legislation to remedy the problem; and, in the meantime, take responsibility for doing what we can to provide direct service to these children. That is the reason the NFB created the Braille Enrichment through Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program. And in 2013 the BELL rang loud and proud in nineteen states, and Monitor readers may remember the articles in November’s issue about “The Other BELL in Philadelphia.” This month we have some photos from that amazing first ringing of the BELL in Pennsylvania.
To ensure that the students practice the Braille they learned in the program, they had daily journaling sessions using the Perkins Brailler. But it wasn’t all hard work; there was plenty of time for fun and games, like Twister.
Michelle McManus said that a valuable part of the program is covering things that they wouldn’t learn in school, the little daily practicalities like passing things at the lunch table or navigating on their own. The outdoor mobility lessons were a key part of that, encouraging the kids to explore the city in ways they might not have on their own. That’s why the NFB is working hard not only to keep the BELLs ringing in the affiliates that have already held the program, but to improve it. 2013 was a great year, but 2014 is going to be bigger and better, with the likelihood that half of our affiliates will be sponsoring BELL Programs.