National Federation of the Blind Receives Grant from National Science Foundation

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National Federation of the Blind Receives Grant from National Science Foundation

Organization Will Expand Programs of National Center for Blind Youth in Science

Baltimore, Maryland (November 25, 2013): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), a pioneer in providing STEM-related educational opportunities for blind youth, announced today that a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will allow the NFB to continue to develop and expand the programs of its National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS). Under the expanded initiative, the NFB will partner with six science centers across the nation to conduct programs for blind youth and make the exhibits of the science centers accessible to the blind.  The NFB will work with these science centers to create innovative two-day science programs for blind youth and their parents, as well as to enhance the accessibility of exhibits and activities at the science centers and provide training to teachers on ways to enhance the participation of blind students in the science classroom.  Programs are already confirmed for the Museum of Science, Boston; Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Baltimore; and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are pleased and proud to have this unprecedented opportunity to expand the participation of blind youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  Since 2004, we have worked to facilitate the participation of blind children and youth in STEM fields, which are too often falsely believed to be closed to blind people.  This grant will allow us to reach more blind youth than ever before and to develop partnerships that will enhance participation in STEM fields for blind children and youth across the nation.”

Mark Riccobono, executive director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and principal investigator for the NSF grant, said: “Through our science academies and Youth Slam gatherings, we have kindled in many young blind people the spark of curiosity and the desire to explore new horizons.  We have also pioneered techniques for the effective teaching of science to blind students.  We are delighted to have this unprecedented opportunity to expand this critically important work, to share what we have learned, and to continue to innovate in the area of STEM instruction for blind students through the partnerships that we will develop under this grant.  We thank the National Science Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work and for providing the funds to advance it.”

Christine Reich, director of research and evaluation at the Museum of Science, Boston, and co-principal investigator for the grant, said: “The Museum of Science, Boston is thrilled and honored to be working with the National Federation of the Blind on this project.  As our mission statement asserts, we believe that ‘everyone has a role to play in the world of science and technology’-- and we really do mean everyone.  Science museums are a critical part of our nation's educational infrastructure.  They are places where individuals can spend valuable time with friends and family while simultaneously practicing their scientific or engineering thinking skills or learning about critical science concepts.  We know from research that, if designed correctly, science museums can empower learners so that they feel that learning about, discussing, or engaging in the process of science is something that they are able to do.  This project will go a long way toward ensuring that blind children and youth benefit from the rich learning experience that science museums afford and that they, too, come to know that engaging in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is something that they are able to do.”
For more information about this project, please visit You can also receive project updates by following @NFBScience on Twitter.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1322855.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)