Future Reflections                                                                          Spring/Summer 2003

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Braille Workshop For Parents

by Nancy Burns, President
National Federation of the Blind of California

Parents Carla and Michael Cerillo of La Mirada, California practice sight-reading Braille.

Parents Carla and Michael Cerillo of La Mirada, California
practice sight-reading Braille.

The education of blind children has been a top priority of the NFB of California (NFB/CA) for many years. This is exemplified by our legislative efforts over the past five years. California now has a Braille Bill and a Reading Standards Bill, which have been signed by the governor. During this legislative session we are working on the implementation of forgiveness loans for teachers working on a special education credential in the blindness field.

Last year this affiliate applied for a foundation grant from the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The application was submitted under the categories of literacy and education. The purpose, as stated in our proposal, was to teach Braille to parents of blind children. We received a grant in the amount of $5,000.

Joyce Wales, president of the California Parents of Blind Children; Caroline Rounds, an elementary school teacher; and I began planning for our first Braille Is Beautiful workshop. We set a date and the work began. We mailed flyers and began gathering materials for the workshop.

The response was amazing! Initially the cutoff number was to be twenty-five parents. The office was deluged with responses. The workshop grew to thirty, at which time we stopped taking applications. A waiting list evolved. We then scheduled a second workshop for the following Saturday.

With some of the grant money we provided overnight accommodations at the Burbank Courtyard Marriott for parents traveling long distances. A mixer and registration were held in the NFB/CA office the Friday evening prior to the workshop.

The workshop was held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Learning the Braille alphabet was stressed during the morning, and the afternoon was spent writing with a slate and stylus. A variety of fun, Braille-related activities were presented throughout the day.

We have already received many requests for a workshop in Spanish. We also have requests for workshops in other parts of the state. The NFB/CA will obviously look for additional grant funds to provide these ongoing workshops. It appears that a large number of parents of blind and visually impaired children are taking a serious step in order to be able to reinforce their child's knowledge of Braille. What a wonderful turn of events!

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