The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Research Advisory Council

NFB Research Mission:

The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute (NFBJI) is the first research and training facility developed and directed by blind people. The NFBJI is committed to promoting innovative research concerning blindness to help deepen our understanding of the real problems that face blind people and to help the world’s blind increase independence, self-respect, and self-determination. NFBJI research has included the investigation of new approaches toward the education and rehabilitation of the blind; attitudes toward the blind; innovations relating to the use of Braille; quality of life issues; and cutting-edge technologies, products, and services developed by and for the blind.

To advance its research mission, the NFBJI has 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.

Research Advisory Council:

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

The 2017 Members of the Research Advisory Council are:

• Edward Bell, Ph.D., director, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness, Louisiana Tech University

• Lou Ann Blake, J.D., deputy executive director, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute

• Curtis Chong, manager of assistive technology, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind

• Seth Lamkin, grant program officer, the National Federation of the Blind

• Anil Lewis, executive director, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute

• Matt Maurer, Ph.D., professor of instructional technology, Butler University

• Fredric Schroeder, Ph.D., research professor, San Diego State University

• Natalie Shaheen, educational consultant

• Arielle Silverman, Ph.D., disability research consultant

• Cary Supalo, Ph.D., visiting scientist, Purdue University; research developer, the Educational Testing Service

• Eric Vasiliauskas, M.D., associate clinical director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Research Projects of Interest:

1. Assistive Technology Database

Researcher: Arielle Silverman

Purpose of Project: to develop a database of blind individuals interested in participating in user studies and providing feedback on new assistive technologies; to obtain comments on the assistive technology needs of the blind community, and ideas for new haptic technologies

Sponsoring Organization: Arizona State University’s Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing

2. Perception of Race and Culture by the Blind and Visually Impaired

Researchers: Danene Fast and Ann Pilewskie

Purpose of Project: to examine how individuals who are blind or visually impaired perceive race and culture. The result of the study will be used to expand literature on the subject, improve education, and raise awareness of diversity.

Sponsoring Organization: Ohio State University

3. MRI Research Study on Cognition

Researcher: Marina Bedny, Ph.D.

Purpose of Project: to investigate how the brain adapts to the absence of vision. Participation in the research involves having an MRI scan, during which the participant listens to speech and other sounds and answers questions about what he or she hears. The neuroimaging will be used to compare the brains of individuals who grew up with vision, were born blind, and who became blind later in life.

Sponsoring Organization: The Neuroplasticity and Development Lab, Johns Hopkins University

4. Disability Role Model Study

Researcher: Christy Nittrouer

Purpose of Project: to discover why disabled people are still underrepresented in higher education and employment by investigating ways in which role models can affect higher education and job outcomes for disabled people

Sponsoring Organization: Rice University

5. Creating Digital Library Design Guidelines on Accessibility, Usability, and Utility for Blind and Visually Impaired

Researcher: Iris Xie

Purpose of Project: to develop digital library design guidelines that address blind and visually impaired (BVI) users’ accessibility, usability, and utility problems across different digital libraries. The study will request that BVI participants “think aloud” as they search for specified information using two digital libraries to investigate how well the website supports a blind user’s search for information.

Sponsoring Organization: Institute of Museum and Library Services

Research Topics of Interest to the NFBJI:

• Youth and Mentoring

Identification of blind youth who have learned how to use a personal computer and investigation of how they acquired such learning

• Braille and Literacy

The impact of refreshable Braille displays on reading fluency

The impact of the length of Braille displays on reading comprehension

The most efficient ways to read with refreshable Braille

How to improve the efficiency of refreshable Braille displays

How electronic format has 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, including how they were taught

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

• Adults in Rehabilitation, Education, and Employment

The most effective methods for the blind to find employment

The impact of parent advocacy on the employment of blind children

Barriers faced by blind adults entering STEM professions

The 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

Recruitment of Blind and Low Vision Research Participants:

Are you a researcher interested in working with the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute to recruit participants for your study? Please complete the online Research Review Form to tell us a bit about your study and what the experience will be like for participants. This information will help readers decide if they would like to participate in the study. We will review this information for completeness and will let you know if more detail is needed to inform the potential participants about the study. Please contact Lou Ann Blake for additional information.