NFB BELL® Academy

The NFB BELL Academy provides children with Braille and nonvisual skills instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities.

A woman holds a young girl with glasses in her arms; both are smiling.   A young boy and a young girl both wear decorated sleep shades and stand holding their long white canes.   A woman and a young boy read Braille together.

NFB BELL Academy has helped me achieve goals in Braille and discover new things about myself, I didn’t even realize. And make new, great friends.

The NFB BELL Academy—which stands for National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning®—is a nationwide summer program that prepares blind and low-vision children to grow into confident and independent blind people who live the lives they want.

Activities are provided in a day program or residential setting, depending on location. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, interact with blind adult mentors, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum. Through these activities and interactions, the children learn that blindness or low vision does not define them or their future. 

NFB BELL Academy typically runs Monday through Friday for six hours each day for two weeks.

Who Should Attend

Blind and low-vision children, ages four through twelve, who:

  • Do not receive enough Braille and nonvisual skills instruction in school
  • Could benefit from more Braille exposure over the summer
  • Would enjoy connecting with blind role models

To be honest, for a mother with a low-vision child, I was very uneducated by the blind word, and I didn't think he could attend an event like it…A friend that was taking her son, told me that I should try and we did. The first day was like a whole new world of possibilities and knowledge opened up for me.

2020 Locations

Please check our list of 2020 NFB BELL Academy locations. Each location page provides information about program coordinators, dates, times, addresses, and other helpful details. We will add additional locations as they are confirmed.

How to Apply

  • Before You Start: The application process will take approximately 20-30 minutes. You may wish to have your student’s IEP or latest progress report to assist you in answering the questions related to your student’s knowledge of Braille and other nonvisual skills. The form must be completed in one sitting as you will not be able to save the form.
  • Registration: Complete the online registration application. This form will ask you to provide your contact information, as well as information about the student (such as, grade level in the fall, birthdate, interests, any medical needs, etc.). This information allows the NFB BELL Academy team to learn a little about the student.
  • Permission and Releases: Complete the permissions and releases form: The information in this form provides us with all of the detailed information that we will need to meet your student’s needs. This form contains the following: general release, sunscreen release, medical release, medical history and health insurance information, program expectations, media release, transportation release, and student pick-up release.
  • Confirmation and Contacts: Upon submitting the application, an email is sent to you containing a copy of all of the information you provided. Contact information for your state coordinator will appear at the top of the email. 
  • Costs: Registration Fees differ from NFB BELL Academy to NFB BELL Academy. Please consult your NFB BELL Academy’s FAQ page for more details.

Register

Registration is now open.

Apply online today using our online registration application.

Upon submission, a state program coordinator will connect with you. If you are applying for more than one NFB BELL Academy, please submit one application per NFB BELL Academy.

Note: The facilitators of the NFB BELL Academy in your area may opt to conduct an interview or collect additional information about your student before accepting your student into the Academy. Application, selection, and registration processes differ from state to state, so please contact your state coordinator with any questions you have about the process.

Supporters

Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support of the NFB BELL Academy.

As a coordinator I was so happy to see how excited each child was each morning when they came into the BELL classroom. Each child was willing to try new things and they are excitedly looking forward to next year's BELL Academy.

Wells Fargo logo.   Seedlings, Braille Books for Children, logo.   American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults logo.

More Information

For more information about the NFB BELL Academy, please contact us at BELL@nfb.org.