[Nfbnet-members-list] National Federation of the Blind Receives Grant from National Science Foundation

National Federation of the Blind webmaster at nfb.org
Wed Feb 14 01:24:04 UTC 2018


National Federation of the Blind Receives Grant from National Science 

Five-Year Grant Will Allow Blind Youth to Explore Engineering and 
Yield Innovative Research in Informal Education

Baltimore, Maryland (February 13, 2018): The National Federation of 
the Blind (NFB) has received a $2 million grant from the National 
Science Foundation (NSF) that will allow blind students to explore 
the field of engineering and provide useful educational research.

Working with researchers from Utah State University and educators 
from the Science Museum of Minnesota, the National Federation of the 
Blind will gather blind high school students from across the country 
to attend weeklong summer programs called "NFB EQ" (Engineering 
Quotient). These programs will teach engineering through hands-on 
activities and connect students with blind adult mentors. The NFB and 
its partners will research the spatial abilities of blind youth and 
develop model practices and nonvisual tools to strengthen those 
abilities. Toolkits based on project activities will be produced so 
that other parents and educators will be able to use these practices.

Many blind people struggle with spatial skills and mental mapping. 
This is primarily because blind students do not have access to 
educational opportunities that foster the development of these 
skills. Among the STEM disciplines, engineering relies most heavily 
on spatial reasoning skills, so these programs will provide ample 
opportunities for students to utilize and strengthen them. This will 
help blind youth to develop engineering skills, prepare them for 
success in STEM fields, and strengthen their ability to travel 
independently with a white cane or guide dog.

"A combination of lack of knowledge about nonvisual techniques and 
society's low expectations for the blind prevents too many blind 
youth from developing spatial reasoning skills and, if they desire, 
participating in engineering or other fields that use these skills," 
said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the 
Blind. "We have dedicated significant resources to changing this 
unacceptable status quo, and we thank the National Science Foundation 
and our partners at Utah State and the Science Museum of Minnesota 
for helping us accelerate our progress and broaden our reach."

"Since we know that spatial ability is such a strong indicator of 
success in STEM education and STEM professions, we need to understand 
how it is developed in our blind youth and how they utilize it in 
solving engineering problems," said Dr. Wade Goodridge, Assistant 
Professor in Engineering Education at Utah State University. "We can 
then develop methods to leverage spatial thinking and help our 
students have better chances to succeed. My team seeks to develop 
nonvisual techniques to facilitate, motivate, and open pathways 
towards engineering, allowing blind youth to pursue a profession they 
may have previously thought was not within their reach. We hope to 
initiate a momentum that will enhance their engineering educational 

"At the Science Museum of Minnesota, showing those who visit us and 
participate in our programs that we are all scientists is at the 
heart of what we do," said Alison Rempel Brown, president of the 
Science Museum of Minnesota. "We're so pleased to partner with the 
National Federation of the Blind and Utah State University to develop 
ways to bring engineering education to blind students and create new 
pathways to success in the STEM disciplines."

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science 
Foundation under Grant No. 1712887. 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.


About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in 
Baltimore, is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind 
Americans. Founded in 1940, the NFB consists of affiliates, chapters, 
and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. 
The NFB defends the rights of blind people of all ages and provides 
information and support to families with blind children, older 
Americans who are losing vision, and more. We believe in the hopes 
and dreams of blind people and work together to transform them into 
reality. Learn more about our many programs and initiatives at 


Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

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