Research Program

The National Federation of the Blind is committed to promoting innovative research concerning blindness. The mission of our research program is to help deepen our understanding of the real problems that face blind people and to help blind people increase independence, self-respect, and self-determination.

Our research has included in-depth investigation of:

  • New approaches in education and rehabilitation of the blind
  • Attitudes toward the blind
  • Innovations related to the use of Braille
  • Quality of life issues
  • Cutting-edge technologies, products, and services developed by and for the blind

Our current research interests include: 

  • Identification of blind youth who have learned how to use a personal computer
  • Impact of refreshable Braille displays on reading fluency
  • Impact of the length of refreshable Braille displays on reading comprehension
  • The most efficient ways to read with refreshable Braille displays and how to improve efficiency 
  • How electronic formats have changed Braille teaching strategies
  • Effective Braille instruction and strategies to combat poor Braille instruction
  • Environmental influences on Braille reading fluency
  • Techniques used by fast Braille readers
  • Improved methodologies for providing the blind with access to visual information
  • Best practices for the blind to understand visual information through non-visual methods
  • Improvements in the creation of tactile graphics
  • Strategies for teaching visual intelligence
  • Impact of the age at which a person becomes blind
  • What can be learned about the brain of the blind through MRI scan studies
  • The most effective methods for the blind to find employment
  • Impact of parent advocacy on the employment of their blind adult children
  • Barriers faced by blind adults entering science, technology, engineering, and math professions
  • Impact of exposure to successful blind people at blind consumer conventions on outcomes achieved by vocational rehabilitation counselors
  • Case studies of teachers of the blind achieving exceptional results with students
  • Case studies of blind students with additional disabilities who are learning Braille

Research Collaborations

To advance our research mission, we have created a process by which researchers can collaborate with the NFB on research projects, obtain assistance or advice, or obtain help recruiting participants for their research studies.

If you are a researcher interested in working with the NFB to recruit participants for your study, please complete the online research participant solicitation request form. We will review your request and let you know if more detail is needed. Please contact Lou Ann Blake for additional information.

Research Advisory Council

The research advisory council is a group of uniquely qualified individuals who serve as a consultative body to the NFB on research priorities. The research advisory council identifies appropriate independent and collaborative research projects and pursues opportunities to strengthen the breadth and depth of influence of the NFB in the blindness research arena.

Members of the Research Advisory Council

  • Edward Bell, PhD, director, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness, Louisiana Tech University
  • Lou Ann Blake, JD, deputy executive director, Blindness Initiatives, National Federation of the Blind
  • Curtis Chong, manager of assistive technology, New Mexico Commission for the Blind
  • Seth Lamkin, grant program officer, National Federation of the Blind
  • Anil Lewis, executive director, Blindness Initiatives, National Federation of the Blind
  • Matt Maurer, PhD, professor of instructional technology, Butler University
  • Fredric Schroeder, PhD, research professor, San Diego State University
  • Natalie Shaheen, educational consultant
  • Arielle Silverman, PhD, disability research consultant
  • Cary Supalo, PhD, visiting scientist, Purdue University; research developer, Educational Testing Service
  • Eric Vasiliauskas, MD, associate clinical director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

If you are a blind masters or PhD student interested in the guidance and support of a research advisory council member to serve as a mentor and/or informal advisor to you in your research, please contact Lou Ann Blake.