FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Monday, September 22, 2008
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Public Relations Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Pat Schroeder to Serve on National Leadership Advisory Group for Braille Literacy

Baltimore, Maryland (September 22, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s leading advocate for Braille literacy, announced today that Pat Schroeder, former Colorado congressional representative and current president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers, is the first dignitary to agree to serve on a National Leadership Advisory Group for Braille literacy.  The advisory group will help advance the NFB’s Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, a national initiative to promote the importance of reading and writing Braille for blind children and adults.  The Braille Readers are Leaders campaign kicked off in July of 2008 with the unveiling of the design of a commemorative coin to be minted in 2009 in recognition of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille (1809-1852), the inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind that bears his name.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to have our long-time friend Pat Schroeder as part of this historic initiative to bring Braille literacy to all of the blind children and adults in America who need it.  Her extensive experience as an advocate, her leadership in the publishing community, and her long-standing commitment to equal education for everyone will be invaluable assets as this landmark campaign moves forward.  There can be no doubt that the ability to read and write Braille competently and efficiently is the key to education, employment, and success for the blind.  Despite the undisputed value of Braille, however, only about 10 percent of blind children in the United States are currently learning it.  Society would never accept a 10 percent literacy rate among sighted children; it should not accept such an outrageously low literacy rate among the blind.  The Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, with the support of influential Americans like Pat Schroeder, will reverse the downward trend in Braille literacy and ensure that equal opportunities in education and employment are available to all of the nation’s blind.”

Pat Schroeder said: “I am honored and delighted to serve on the National Leadership Advisory Group for the Braille Readers are Leaders campaign.  I have committed a great part of my life to making sure that all people have access to literacy and education, and this includes the blind.  I look forward to working with the National Federation of the Blind and my colleagues on the National Leadership Advisory Group to increase the availability of the opportunity to learn to read and write Braille.”

The National Leadership Advisory Group–which will consist of influential Americans in areas such as business, education, politics, sports, entertainment, and media–will assist the National Federation of the Blind in advancing a national campaign to increase support for Braille literacy among blind children and adults.  Funds raised to support the campaign will be matched by proceeds from the sale of the Louis Braille Bicentennial–Braille Literacy commemorative coin.  The funds will be used to meet the campaign’s goals, which include:

  • The number of school-age children reading Braille will double by 2015.
  • All fifty states will enact legislation requiring special education teachers of blind children to obtain and maintain the National Certification in Literary Braille by 2015.
  • Braille resources will be made more available through online sharing of materials, enhanced production methods, and improved distribution.
  • The American public will learn that blind people have a right to Braille literacy so they can compete and assume a productive role in society.

For more information about the Braille Readers Are Leaders campaign and the Louis Braille commemorative coin, please visit www.braille.org.