Our September Spotlight series highlights high-impact projects and resources offered by two consumer organizations of blind people: the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
- September 5: ACB Audio Description Project
- September 12: NFB Self-Advocacy Toolkits and Resources
- September 19: ACB Media Network and Publications
- September 26: NFB Publications and Media and Free Materials
In this fourth and final installment, we spotlight some resources available from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
The National Federation of the Blind distributes several publications in various formats, including online HTML, email, podcast, Braille, print, and video. These publications cover topics of interest to blind/low vision people and their families from a variety of perspectives. Here’s a sampling.
The Braille Monitor
NFB’s flagship publication is the Braille Monitor. NFB publishes the “Monitor” 11 times per year, and offers it at no cost in digital and audio formats – including email “subscriptions.” The Monitor covers NFB activities and other events and issues important to blind/low vision individuals. The Monitor also often contains personal articles from NFB members sharing their personal experiences and reflections. Here’s how NFB describes the purpose of the Monitor: “Distributed eleven times a year since 1957, the Braille Monitor:
- Offers a positive philosophy about blindness to both blind readers and the public at large
- Serves as a vehicle for advocacy and protection of civil rights
- Addresses social concerns affecting the blind
- Discusses issues related to employment, education, legislation, and rehabilitation
- Provides news about products and technology used by the blind
Anyone may access current and past issues of the Braille Monitor at no cost online. As noted above, NFB also offers email subscriptions at no cost. Additionally, individuals may access the Braille Monitor at no cost to NFB Newsline® subscribers and on our favorite podcast apps by searching for “National Federation of the Blind—Braille Monitor.”
Additionally, the NFB offers annual subscriptions to the Monitor in hard copy braille, hard copy print, and on USB drive. NFB requests, but does not require, U.S. residents to submit a $40 donation to cover the cost of the subscription. Subscriptions sent to Canadian addresses cost $50 per year, and subscriptions sent to other foreign addresses cost $75 per year.
NFB also offers all 2023 issues of the Braille Monitor in Spanish on El Braille Monitor web page.
Future Reflections is the NFB’s quarterly magazine dedicated to parents and teachers of blind children and students. Much of its material comes from the NFB’s division for parents of blind children, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Here is what NFB has to say about the magazine: “Future Reflections is a quarterly magazine for parents and teachers of blind children that offers resources and information based on the National Federation of the Blind’s positive philosophy of blindness.” Future Reflections includes articles written by parents, blind/low vision adults, and educators about blind/low vision children and students, education, and community activities. While Future Reflections focuses on parents and educators of blind/low vision children, many students, themselves, write articles for the magazine and enjoy reading the publication.
Individuals may access current and past issues of Future Reflections online and current editions on NFB-Newsline®. Additionally, use this link to subscribe to Future Reflections by email; follow the instructions, or send an email to subscribe to Future Reflections in print or on USB thumb drive. “Include your preferred medium in the body. Please include your address, whether you are a parent of a blind child (and, if so, include your child’s name and birth date), a teacher, or other subscriber.”
Per the NFB: “Subscriptions to the print version [of Future Reflections] are available free of charge to addresses in the United States. Canadian subscriptions are $35 per year, and other foreign subscriptions are 75 US dollars per year.”
Voice of the Nation’s Blind Blog
This blog features short essays covering current topics of interest to blind/low vision individuals. Access current and past blog entries at this link to the Voice of the Nation’s Blind Blog.
Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research
The Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research (JBIR) provides, at no cost, access to high-quality research articles on blindness/low vision topics, including education, rehabilitation, nonvisual techniques and tools, and nonvisually-accessible technology. Note that JBIR does not contain articles that focus on medical matters. Access current and past issues of JBIR at no cost at this link to Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research.
Imagineering Our Future
Imagineering Our Future serves as the NFB’s monthly email newsletter. This newsletter features a personal message from the NFB president, the latest news on the activities of the organization, and information on how to get involved. Link to subscribe to the Imagineering Your Future newsletter.
Nation’s Blind Podcast
The NFB produces and hosts the Nation’s Blind Podcast; Anil Lewis and Melissa Riccobono serve as hosts. This podcast serves as an informative and often entertaining way to learn about the NFB and engage in interesting conversations. Access current and past podcasts using your favorite podcast apps by searching for “Nation’s Blind Podcast.” Also, find selected podcast episode on the Nation’s Blind Podcast web page.
NFB Presidential Releases
The NFB Presidential Release is a monthly audio message from the NFB president. It contains updates on the activities of the organization and news of interest to blind people from around the country. Presidential Releases are recorded live on Zoom, and there is an opportunity to submit questions in advance. Find the dates of the Zoom releases in the Imagineering Our Future newsletter.
Along with these publications, the NFB offers a variety of other programs and resources. Both programs are great for people who are just starting to read Braille or use a white cane.
Free long white canes
NFB’s Free White Cane Program provides a straight, fiberglass white cane at no cost. Blind/low vision individuals may request one cane as often as once every six months using the Free White Cane Program online application.
Free slates and styluses
Through its Free Slate and Stylus Program, the NFB will send “a plastic, four-line, twenty-eight cell slate along with a saddle stylus to those that need them. That includes those that are blind and low vision who know Braille or want to learn Braille.” Request a free slate and stylus by completing the Free Slate and Stylus online application. Individuals may request a new slate and stylus as often as once per year.
There are many resources offered on the NFB website at no cost. These include:
Free braille books
- Braille Books Program offers one free braille-only book per month; check out current titles being sent out on the web page. Enroll in the program using the Braille Books Program online application.
- Share Braille: an online book-trading site. Books are free, and so is shipping (via Free Matter for the Blind). Browse available books on the Share Braille Browse web page.
Accessible technology information
- Higher Education Accessibility Online Resource Center offers a wealth of accessibility resources focused on blind/low vision individuals in higher education (after high school). This resource also contains advocacy tools, including those related to third-party service providers.
- International Braille and Technology Center (IBTC) provides no-cost information and guidance about accessible assistive technology devices. If you are in Baltimore, consider making an appointment to tour the IBTC for a hands-on opportunity to check out many devices by calling the IBTC 410-659-9314, option 5 or emailing them to make an appointment.
- Accessibility Switchboard provides information and advocacy resources. Description from the website: “Connecting industry and consumers to solutions for technology accessibility, and the benefits of organization-wide approaches to accessibility. Developed by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, with support from the Maryland Department of Disabilities.”
- Nemeth Code Curriculum (contains curricular materials to support learning Nemeth Code math as well as a Nemeth Code Symbol Library reference tool)
- NFB EQ Curriculum
- Offers 32.5 hours of curricular materials to support STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)
- Nonvisual Election Technology Training Curriculum – an important resource every year!
Divisions for Students, Families, and Educators
NFB consists of affiliates in each state as well as divisions that represent a variety of professional and personal interests; some of these have publications of their own.
The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) is the NFB’s division for blind students, and it conducts many activities around the country for the benefit of blind/low vision students. The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland supports the statewide division for students, the Maryland Association of Blind Students (MDABS).
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) is the NFB’s division for parents of blind children, and the local chapter is the Maryland Organization of Parents of Blind Children (MDPOBC), which is also a division of the NFB of Maryland.
NFB’s Professionals in Blindness Education (PIBE) division supports all educators of blind/low vision students through early intervention, elementary, and secondary education. Check out the PIBE Facebook page for announcements and the PIBE Facebook group for communication and collaboration with other educators of blind/low vision students.
We hope this series has inspired us all to tap into the wealth of resources and support available in our community. We on the Bridges Technical Assistance Center team are always eager to hear from you and to connect you with the support you need. Contact our Helpdesk anytime!
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridges Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@IMAGEmd.org
- Text or Leave a Voice mail message: (410) 357-1546
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.