Release Date: 
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Melissa Riccobono
National Federation of the Blind of Maryland
(443) 803-0266

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland Holds Local Braille Training Program for Blind Children

Baltimore, Maryland (August 7, 2013): The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland (NFBMD) is currently holding a two-week Braille training program for blind children through August 9, 2013.  The Braille Enrichment through Literacy and Learning (BELL) program is designed to provide blind children and children with low vision ages four through twelve with two weeks of intense Braille instruction via hands-on learning and fun.
The NFB BELL program, which was developed by members of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in 2008, brings together successful blind mentors and students, enabling the students to foster a positive attitude about Braille and an understanding that Braille is an invaluable tool for completing a wide variety of tasks. Including Maryland, twenty-one affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind will host the NFB BELL Program in 2013.
The program run by NFBMD is being held at the National Federation of the Blind’s national headquarters, the NFB Jernigan Institute, in Baltimore, MD.  During the program, the attendees will become acquainted with how useful Braille can be as an alternative to reading print. They will learn about the Braille code through an engaging combination of arts and crafts, games, outdoor activities, and field trips. 
Melissa Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, said: “Today, despite the fact that Braille literacy is one of the highest predictors of success for blind youth, only one in ten blind children are learning Braille in school.  We are raising a generation of functionally-illiterate blind children who are unable to read or write as well as their peers because they don’t have the correct tools or training. The NFB BELL program seeks to reverse that downward trend in Braille literacy by exposing young blind children to Braille and setting them on a path to a life of Braille literacy and success.”
A parent of a previous participant in the BELL program had this to say about the experience: “The most valuable thing my daughter learned is that she isn't alone.  She is the only child in her school with a visual impairment and enjoyed knowing there are other kids out there who are like her and face some of the same vision related difficulties.  The instructors and volunteers pushed her out of her comfort zone and helped her find success in mobility activities she has never had a chance to try at school.  We will be asking many questions in our next IEP team meeting!”
The program concludes on Friday, August 9, with an award ceremony honoring the achievement of the students. For more information about the NFB BELL program, please visit