Future Reflections                                                                                                           Fall 2004

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Online Education Program New Initiative from the NFB Jernigan Institute

Editor’s Note:  Has it happened, again? School has started but, somehow, the orientation and training your child’s new classroom teacher was supposed to get about how to include a blind student in her or his class simply never happened. We all know that a successful school year for our kids depends heavily upon a well-informed classroom teacher. We also know how difficult it is to schedule time for that training. Here’s good news from the NFB Jernigan Institute about a program that can help solve that chronic problem. Mark Riccobono, Manager, Education Programs, NFB Jernigan Institute uses a question and answer format below to describe this new initiative:

Q: What is the online education program?
A: This new program is training on blindness provided by the blind themselves. The NFB Jernigan Institute has established a learning portal from which online educational offerings are now available. The first four courses include:

•Introduction to the Education of Blind Children in the Regular Classroom

•Introduction to Braille

•Introduction to Access Technology for the Blind

•Introduction to Non-visual Web Accessibility

These initial courses are just the beginning of an extensive Online Education Program the NFB Jernigan Institute will offer. Through partnerships with parents, educators, rehabilitation professionals, university programs, and others, the NFB Jernigan Institute will bring together the unique consumer experience, the skills of professionals in the field, and the valuable knowledge of parents into an education program unlike any other.

Q: Who can benefit?
A: The initial course offerings are targeted at those who know little about working with blind students, Braille, and access technology. However, many parents will also benefit from content in these courses. Courses in this program can be taken for continuing education units (CEUs) through a partnership with the Council for Exceptional Children at no additional cost. Future courses will be developed to target specific areas of need which will be identified by the Jernigan Institute and its partners. Efforts are underway to establish an “NOPBC Parents University” under the Online Education Program in order to establish new ways of delivering the rich content and support that only the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) and mentors from the National Federation of the Blind can provide.

Q: What are the costs?
A: Each of the first four courses is available for just $89.95 per course. The course cost is the same regardless of whether or not you take the course for CEUs.

Q: What does this mean to you?
A: The NFB Jernigan Institute Online Education Program provides parents with another tool to present to educators in order to raise their awareness about blindness and working with your blind child. Consider writing one of these courses into an IEP to ensure that the educators working with your child have appropriate training or simply encourage teachers you know to include these NFB courses in their professional development plan.  If the current available courses are not ones you are interested in, the NFB Jernigan Institute values your input and welcomes your suggestions for future online courses.

To learn more, visit the NFB Jernigan Institute at: <www.nfb.org>.

You can also visit the Online Portal directly at: <http://learning.nfb.org>.

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