News & Upcoming Events

BELL Program for 2014

brailleThis summer will be the second annual Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) program in Pennsylvania.

The goal of this program is to introduce young students to Braille and to encourage other students in their Braille study.

We especially want to reach out to children who would not otherwise be taught Braille.

This two-week program makes Braille fun through games, activities, lessons, field trips, and stations where students practice reading and writing Braille.

If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact our main office at 215-988-0888 or e-mail us at

Washington Seminar 2014

file000619663500Monday, January 27, through Thursday, January 30, 2014

It is time again for us to take our concerns directly to our legislators in Washington, DC.
This year’s issues again includes the Technology, Education, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACHE) Act.

College students need access to their textbooks and online resources as much as students in earlier grades.

Another issue this year is the fight for Fair Wages for People with Disabilities.

The current laws allow employers to pay disabled employees less than the minimum wage, and this practice needs to be stopped.

The third issue is the Air Carrier Access Act, which is a movement towards making airport kiosks and web sites accessible.

In addition to meeting with members of Congress and Senators, Washington Seminar is the site of student seminars and meetings of many NFB groups and divisions.

For more information about Washington Seminar, please visit:

Louis Braille Carnival

Members of the Keystone Chapter will once again be holding a Louis Braille Carnival at Saint Lucy’s Day School in Philadelphia.

Games like Braille Twister and a Braille-oriented version of musical chairs are hits with the kids who have fun while learning about the importance of Braille.

Story Time shows how Braille can be used to read books at the same speed as using print and encourages the kids to keep practicing.

There is always an art activity, too, that brings Braille and the kids’ creativity together.

This year’s Braille Carnival will probably be held on Valentine’s Day, but stayed tuned for more details.

Possibilities Fair for Older Adults Losing Their Vision and for their Families

file000805054114Americans are living longer, and vision loss occurs more frequently among those who are older.

More than 50 percent of the 70,000 individuals who become blind in this country each year are over the age of 65, and this population is expected to more than double by the year 2030.

Yet less financial resources and fewer services are available to those over 55 losing vision than to younger blind people.

This Possibilities Fair will provide a hands-on opportunity for those 55 and older who are losing vision to learn how to improve their lives.

The Fair will include demonstration areas featuring alternative techniques, equipment, services for older adults losing vision, and helpful hints about enjoying life.

The exact date has not yet been announced, but it will be in April or May of 2014, so stay tuned for more information.

Surrey Services is partnering with the NFB of Pennsylvania to host this event.

For directions or transportation information, please call our main office at (215) 988-0888 or e-mail us at

Philly Give Camp Helps NFB of PA Update Their Web Site

philly give campAt the Microsoft Center in Malvern, PA, over eighty volunteers came together to help twenty-five charitable organizations build or improve their web sites.

The National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania was one of the organizations that was helped. This event, put on by the Philly Chapter of the national Give Camp organization, started on Friday night, January 17, and lasted through Sunday afternoon, January 19.

Volunteers from Microsoft brought volunteers together with the charities that needed their help, and their skills were put to good use.

Graphic designers, WordPress experts, database wizards, and many others donated their time and experience to give these charities leading-edge web sites.

Significant planning and information-gathering took place before the event to make the best use of time during this whirlwind weekend.

NABS December Newsletter

In This Bulletin:
1. Washington Seminar 2011!
2. NFB 2011 Scholarship Program Now Open!
3. Sign Up for 2011 NFB Youth Slam!
4. State Division Announcements

[From the Desk of the NABS President…]

National Association of Blind Students (NABS)
December 18, 2010

Download Minutes of the last NABS Board Meeting

In This Bulletin:
1. Washington Seminar 2011!
2. NFB 2011 Scholarship Program Now Open!
3. Sign Up for 2011 NFB Youth Slam!
4. State Division Announcements

1. Washington Seminar 2011!

The National Federation of the Blind will be gathering once again this winter in Washington, D.C. to meet with our national legislators and discuss our legislative priorities with them. As usual, just prior to our legislative visits, the National Association of Blind Students will be holding its annual winter meeting. This year, our NABS student meeting will be held on Monday, January 31, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Before our meeting, we will be having a breakfast meet-and-greet for students attending their first Washington Seminar.

The Great Gathering-In meeting, where the entire NFB delegation assembles to discuss the upcoming legislative work, will happen on Monday just after the conclusion of the NABS meeting, and legislative appointments will be held Tuesday, February 1, through Thursday, February 3.

We encourage all of you to join us for the NABS meeting, the legislative appointments, or both. To find out who else is going from your state or to inquire about funding to cover the cost of your trip, please contact your NFB state affiliate president.

More details about the NABS student seminar will be available soon. If you have suggestions for specific topics you’d like to have discussed during the seminar, please send your suggestions to me at .

2. NFB 2011 Scholarship Program Now Open!

Each year the National Federation of the Blind awards thirty scholarships to legally blind college and graduate students across the country. The scholarship includes a cash award ranging from $3000 to $12000, plus a free trip to the NFB national convention and often a piece of assistive technology such as a KNFB Reader Mobile. The scholarship application for 2011 is now on the Web at Applications are due by March 31, 2011.

Already won a national NFB scholarship? You can apply again and potentially win a second scholarship, also known as a TenBroek fellowship.

In addition, many NFB affiliates offer scholarships to blind students.

You needn’t be an active member of the NFB to win. Contact your NFB state president for details. You can find a list of state affiliates and their contact information at

Best of luck!

3. Sign Up for NFB 2011 Youth Slam!

From Mary Jo Hartle, director of education, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute:

We are pleased to announce the third biennial NFB Youth Slam. Whether or not science or technology is “your thing,” there’s sure to be something for everyone. Learn the science behind building apps for your iPod, use cutting-edge equipment and technology to determine chemical reactions in chemistry labs, build robots, or learn how to use nonvisual techniques to perform a real dissection. We guarantee this summer program will be like no other you’ve ever been to before!

One hundred and fifty blind and low vision students from all across the country will be selected to attend this five-day adventure, to be held in Baltimore, Maryland, that will engage, inspire, and encourage the next generation of blind youth to consider careers falsely believed to be impossible for the blind.

While staying on a college campus, students will be mentored by blind role models during fun and challenging activities designed to build confidence and increase science literacy. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend workshops on topics such as leadership, career preparation, and blindness. In addition, students and mentors will take part in a variety of social events throughout the week.

Come to the NFB Youth Slam and meet other blind and low vision students from all over the United States!

Interested students who will be age fourteen at the time of the program, and are starting high school (ninth grade) in the fall of 2011 or are currently in high school (including those graduating in the spring of 2011) should complete an application online. Students need not have a strong interest in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) in order to participate, enjoy, and benefit from this extraordinary experience.

If you are interested in attending the NFB Youth Slam, either as a student participant, or as an adult volunteer, visit to complete an online application. Applications are due by March 1, 2011.

If you have any questions about the NFB Youth Slam, please visit the Web site or contact Mary Jo Hartle, Director of Education, NFB Jernigan Institute,

(410) 659-9314, extension 2407, or e-mail

Join us as we continue to make history at what promises to be the best NFB Youth slam yet!

Mary Jo T. Hartle

4. State Division Announcements:

From New York:
I just thought I would shoot you a blurb concerning the tremendous strides NYABS has been making. Since the division was reinstated a little over a year ago the student division has grown in leaps and bounds.
Membership has increased greatly, and several local chapters are in the process of being established. We are also planning on having our first Student Seminar in the upcoming year.
Best, and thanks,
Kate Carroll

From Virginia:
My name is Brittany savage and I was just elected presidant of Vabs at our state convention in November. I just wanted to give you a little blerb about what we did and our new board members for the newsletter.
During the Virginia 2010 convention elections were held for the positions of the board for the student division.
Chelsie Cooke was elected board member.
Brittany Crone was elected Secritary.
Kierra Davis was elected treasurer.
Christopher O’Mealy was elected vice presidant, and Brittany Savage was elected presidant.
While at the state convention we held a student track in which 22 middle, high, and college students partisipated.
On Friday night we had a student hospitality meeting where we played ice-breaker games, socialized, and had pizza.
On Saturday morning we held two sessions for the students, one was a mobility training seminar and the other was a “This is what I wish I could tell my parents”.
This was where we had the students tell us what they wished that they could tell their parents about being independant , and we took what they said and during the parents luncheon someone told them what their children said without saying which child said what.
On Saturday afternoon we took the entire group to the D.C. metro where Bridget Dority gave them an O&M lesson on the metro system.
We had a metro bus come and let the students have an hour exploring the bus and seeing what they don’t get to see on a usual day.
I am very proud of the student track this year and want to thank everyone again who put it together.

2011 NFB Youth Slam and National Convention Ideas

[From Mary Jo Thorpe-Hartle on December 2, 2010]
Hi all,
…As most of you may know, the third NFB Youth slam will be taking place this next summer. We are in the early days of planning for it, and would really like your ideas. WE want to know what you, the youth want to do at our next program. So, please take a moment to jot down a few suggestions and send them back to me…

[From Mary Jo Thorpe-Hartle on December 2, 2010]

Hi all,

I know that right now most of you are in the midst of convincing your parents to get you that “perfect” present, or counting down the days till Winter break at school, so the thought of summer is far from your minds, but bear with me for a moment and fast forward your thoughts about six or seven months for me if you will.

As most of you may know, the third NFB Youth slam will be taking place this next summer (learn more and apply online at We are in the early days of planning for it, and would really like your ideas. WE want to know what you, the youth want to do at our next program. So, please take a moment to jot down a few suggestions and send them back to me. We are looking for ideas in the following areas:

1. What kind of Science, technology, engineering, or math related things would be of interest to you to learn about?

2. What kinds of evening social activities would you enjoy best? (I.e., dances, karaoke, recreation activities, etc.)

Also, the annual NFB National Convention will take place this summer in Orlando, Fl (learn more at We again will be facilitating a Youth Track for all youth at convention ages 11-18. Besides a visit to see the Mouse, or a ride on Splash Mountain, what other things would be of interest to you as youth during the convention? what kinds of seminars or workshops would you like to attend? What social activities would interest you most? Please let me know your thoughts. You can e-mail me at or call me at (410) 659-9314 ext. 2407.

Our team here at the NFB Jernigan Institute really wants to make sure our programs reflect what you, our blind youth want while still maintaining the philosophy and standards of the NFB. So, we welcome any feedback for these upcoming events you can give us.

Thanks so much and happy holidays!

Mary Jo T. Hartle

Mary Jo Thorpe-Hartle, MEd, NOMC
Director of Education
Jernigan Institute
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410)659-9314 ext. 2407
Fax: (410) 659-5129