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Braille Enrichment Literacy and Learning ( BELL) Academy

Listing Last Update: February 22, 2016

Location

2233 W Sheppard Ave
Littleton, CO 80120
Nfb.org/bell-academy

Primary Contact

Michelle Chacon

(303) 507-6291

nfbco.bell@gmail.com

Educational services

  • To read and write better
  • To help my child learn
  • To learn English
  • To improve my math skills
  • To improve my technology skills

Instruction Type

  • Classroom

Program Overview

Mission

The mission of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado is to achieve widespread emotional acceptance and intellectual understanding that the real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight but the misconceptions and lack of information, which exist. We do this by bringing blind people together to share successes, to support each other in times of failure, and to create imaginative solutions. Our goal is to increase equality, opportunity, and access for individuals who are blind in the state of Colorado. Through our Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning B.E.L.L. program we are working diligently to increase the literacy rate among blind children.






1. ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND.
The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado (NFBCO) was founded in 1950 by blind men and women who were tired of agencies "for" the blind having the power to make decisions and determine the futures of the blind without their input. The common societal attitude that blind people were incompetent and incapable of intelligent decision-making and were unable to live on equal terms with sighted individuals permeated these agencies, resulting in blind people working in sheltered work shops earning subminimum wage, living with their families as adults, and not achieving integration and acceptance in their communities. Throughout our history, the NFBCO has worked to change public perceptions of blindness and promote equal opportunities for the blind. In the beginning, we worked diligently to encourage sheltered workshops employees to insist on fair pay and equal treatment. We fought for fair housing opportunities and Social Security for the blind, resulting in the ability to earn a higher wage before the loose of Social Security benefits. NFB of Colorado was able to help in passing the Braille Bill, which requires that Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Colorado pass a braille competency test.




In 1985 NFBCO founded the Colorado Center for the Blind as a place where blind individuals across the nation could receive training in blindness skills including braille, cane travel, home management, and technology. The Colorado Center for the Blind has flourished into a world-class training center, graduating students who have the confidence and abilities to live successfully. NFBCO was also one of the first states to provide NFB-NewsLine, providing blind and print disabled citizens of Colorado access to daily newspapers in an accessible format.




Although NFBCO has made great strides in our work, the blind of Colorado have not achieved a place of full equality and acceptance in society. Because of our work, more blind people have jobs, access to education, access to transportation, and an general improvement in quality of life. Despite our great strides, individuals who are blind still hold a seventy percent unemployment rate, many blind children are not taught Braille, students still lack access to technology used in the classroom by their sighted peers, and it is still necessary to work diligently to insure that blind people across Colorado have reliable and accessible transportation. We are continuing to develop new chapters throughout the state and will build at least one new Denver Metro chapter in 2013. Through our local chapters individuals have the opportunity to fellowship, discuss issues related to blindness, and share resources essential to meeting basic life needs.

2. GOALS.
• NFBCO will work to change public attitudes and misconceptions of blindness through community education endeavors.
• NFBCO work diligently to make the blind of Colorado aware of resources and services of available to meet basic needs through telephone campaigns, mass media, chapter meetings, public awareness, and partnerships with other organizations in the community who serve the blind.
• NFBCO will insure equal opportunities to educational for blind students by increasing braille literacy, demanding accessibility of hardware and software used in the classroom, and promoting the attainment and utilization of Teachers of the Visually Impaired for instruction of blind students.
• NFBCO will work to increase the competitive employment of the blind of Colorado through access to blindness training, public education of current subminimum wage practices, legislative action to end subminimum wage practices, and building positive relationships with prospective employers.
• NFBCO will work toward continued and improved access to transportation for the blind of Colorado through persistent work with the Regional Transportation Department, work with existing Rural Transportation services, and efforts to establish Rural Transportation Services where they do not currently exist,

3. CURRENT PROGRAMS
NFB-NewsLine is a free and accessible newspaper reading service that includes over 300 newspapers and 25 magazines, 5 Spanish publications, 12 international publications, severe weather alerts, and television channel guide. NFB-NewsLine is accessible by phone, internet, iDevice, braille note taker, and other hardware devices for the blind. NFB-NewsLine is available to individuals who are blind or have print disabilities. NFB-NewsLine currently serves more than 1,000 individuals throughout Colorado. Through our NFB-NewsLine program, an increased number of individuals who are blind and print disabled will have access to accessible print materials that can prove vital to their daily lives and general well-being.




Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) is a free summer two-week Braille immersion program for blind children ranging in age from 4-12. BELL takes a whole child approach to education. In addition to Braille skills students learn other essential life skills such as self-advocacy, orientation and mobility, and how to prepare food. Students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of orientation and mobility through field trips, which also promote a more robust social experience. Students also participate n the creation of tactile as well music activities. Throughout the program children are encouraged to share their concerns, achievements, and dreams with blind peers. BELL is run by qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired and other blind adult role models who hold children to high expectations and affirm the idea that each child will grow up to be a successful blind adult. BELL serves approximately 20 students each year from varying racial ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. After completion of our BELL program students will have improved self-confidence, an increased knowledge of Braille, improved daily living skills, and a more positive view of blindness.




Mentors Offering a Vision of Excellence and Success (MOVES) for the Blind and Visually Impaired is one of our newest programs in which our members who are successfully employed on a full time status or are full time college students mentor blind students at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. This program consists of bi-monthly visits to the school in which we cultivate relationships with the students, promote a positive philosophy about blindness, teach non-visual techniques for daily living skills, and inform students about resources for the blind. While this is our first year of MOVES, we are expecting to serve approximately 15 students. After completing MOVES, students will have a more positive attitude toward blindness, will have contacts with mentors who can aid in their future success, and will have a better understanding of the options and resources available after graduation.




NFBCO Public Education programs take place throughout the year. In February our Day at the Capitol event allows our local representatives to meet their blind constituents and hear concerns relevant to the blind of Colorado. We also send members to Washington D.C. to educate our representatives about issues of important to the blind across the nation. In October, we participate in Meet the Blind month events throughout the state where we promote public of the abilities of the blind through a variety of fun and creative activities including literature distributions, public dinners, reading braille books at public libraries and schools, white cane races, open house at our Colorado Center for the Blind, and more. We conduct peaceful educational demonstrations to educate the public about social injustice. This year we shared information with the public at GoodWill Industries in Denver and Colorado Springs where they pay some of their workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. We also educated the public about the inaccessibility of Kindle and Kindle software at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. Our public education programs benefit all blind people in Colorado. We expect that our educational programming will change negative societal attitudes and perceptions of blindness and will help bring about change to improve the lives of the blind in Colorado.




5. EVALUATION.
Each year the NFBCO has a state convention in which our goals and direction for the future are discussed and determined by our membership through the programs we support and resolutions that we adopt. Our programs and resolutions are tied to specific outcomes. Our board of directors and special committees appointed by the President meets periodically throughout the year to discuss the progress made toward each program and resolution.




From the founding of our BELL program in 2010 23 students have improved their Braille skills, independent living skills, mobility skills and gained a more positive attitude about blindness as observed by Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired.




Braille Bill Teachers of the Visually impaired have to show that they are certified and Braille Compitent in order to keep their jobs.














6. COLLABORATION.




NFBCO partners with Audio Information Network of CO to support funding for their program. They also allow us to use their airspace to record public service announcements and a thirty minute monthly program about the




7. INCLUSIVENESS.




The only requirement for participation in our organization is blindness or the willingness to work to improve the overall quality of life for the blind of Colorado. Our Board of directors, membership, and program participants are comprised of individuals from a variety of ages, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We work to recruit ALL blind individuals regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, religion, creed, or disability. We have Spanish literature and a host of Spanish speaking volunteers for interpretation if needed. Each year we have a seminar for individuals who are deaf and blind and work to make sure that individuals who are deaf and blind receive necessary accommodated in our meetings, programs, and activities. We strive to meet the cultural needs of our members. Our board of directors includes six women and five men, and of these individuals, one is Asian and one is Hispanic. Our chapter and division presidents include three men and six women, including two individuals who are African American and one individual who is Hispanic.

8. BOARD/GOVERNANCE. Describe the role of the board of directors in advancing the mission of the organization. Include the key issues related to board effectiveness that are being addressed this year, the organization's policy regarding board terms, and the percentage of the board that contributes financially to the organization.
Retreat
What can we do to promote our organization
Redetermining values and direction




9. VOLUNTEERS. Describe how the organization involves volunteers and unpaid personnel (other than the board of directors) within a typical 12-month time period. Include number of volunteers and hours (if tracked by the organization).
10. PLANNING. Describe the challenges and opportunities facing the organization in the next three to five years. Additionally, describe how the organization engages in planning and describe the focus of any current planning efforts.
11. OPTIONAL. If there is additional information that is vital to convey in this proposal, do so here. (This must be contained within the four-page limit for general operating requests or the five-page limit for program and project requests.)




Multitude of Divisions we evaluate through observation, collaboration,




BELL Program Specific Description




Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) is a free summer two-week Braille immersion program for blind children ranging in age from 4-12. In 2014 we will be hosting two BELL programs. One in Colorado Springs which will serve approximately 10 children and one in the Denver Metro area which will serve 10 children. These children represent a variety of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds




In addition to intensive immersion in Braille students learn essential life skills such as self-advocacy, cane travel, and how to prepare food. Students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of cane travel through field trips, which also promote a robust social experience. Students also participate n the creation of tactile art as well music activities.




Children are encouraged to share their concerns, achievements, and dreams with blind peers. Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired as well as other blind adult role models who hold children to high expectation lead the BELL program.




Our dedication to BELL is driven by the unfortunate statistics regarding Braille Literacy. Less than 10% of children who are blind and visually impaired are taught to read Braille in school. Children with visual impairment are forced to use their limited vision to read print causing severe eyestrain, headaches, and reading at a rate significantly slower than their sighted peers. When children is not taught to read print or Braille fluently and relies primarily on audio format, they are functionally illiterate and do not learn to spell, use punctuation, or construct sentences in the same manner as their classmates. The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado holds the deep-rooted belief that all blind individuals should be productive and employed members of society. Current statistics show that 80% of employed blind individuals are Braille readers. Therefore, it is the desire of NFB of Colorado to make sure that children have quality programs in which they are introduced to and encouraged to pursue Braille literacy.






Our dedication to BELL is driven by the unfortunate statistics regarding Braille Literacy. Only approximately 9% of children who are blind are taught to read Braille in school. Instead, they are forced to endure severe eyestrain to read print at a pace significantly slower than that of their sighted peers or they are given information in audio format. When a child is not taught to read print or Braille fluently, they are functionally illiterate and do not learn to spell, use punctuation, or construct sentences in the same manner as their classmates. The National Federation of the Blind of Colorado holds the deep-rooted belief that all blind individuals should be productive and employed members of society. Current statistics show that 80% of employed blind individuals are Braille readers. Therefore, it is the desire of NFB of Colorado to make sure that children have quality programs in which they are introduced to and encouraged to pursue Braille literacy.




Blind children in Colorado Springs will receive the gift of Braille, which will unlock doors for their future success. There are no other summer programs in Colorado Springs which promote Braille Literacy, so without BELL, students will miss out on the opportunity to gain the increased competence in braille, self confidence, improved daily living skills, and inherent belief in themselves as blind individuals. As BELL participants are out and about in the community business owners and community members will have increased positive interactions with blind individuals thereby helping to alleviate negative stereotypes and misconceptions about blindness. There is no quantifiable way to measure the impact that the BELL program can have on the Colorado Springs community.




Scott's Contact Information
Scott C. LaBarre




1660 S. Albion
Suite 918
Denver, CO 80222




Phone: 303-778-1130 ext 223
Fax: 03-757-3640




CCB Fax Number
303-778-1598




Bell Design and how it meets goals.




The program is laid out in such a way that students participate in morning literacy centers, lunch, and an afternoon field trip or activity. At the end of each day, students share their BELL moment. This is the moments of the day for which they are most proud. This can be anything from "I crossed the street by myself" to "I made my own lunch. We celebrate each of these successes as a group.




During Each literacy centers. These centers are designed to address braille reading, braille writing, tactile art and technology. Certified teachers of the visually impaired will work with students within these centers with a 1 to 2 radio so that students get very individualized attention and can work at their level.

Students are expected to use their white cane while traveling in the building as well as on field trips. Certified Teachers of the Visually impaired as well as Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists will provide instruction in appropriate cane travel techniques. During daily travel students will use their white cane to explore the building and navigate their surroundings. During field trips, students will have the opportunity to cross streets, use public transportation, learn cardinal directions, utilize the address system to gain information, explore tactile maps, and much more.




Students will be responsible for preparing their own lunch with the assistance of staff and volunteers. They will be responsible for helping to clean up after lunch and after daily activities. Daily activities will be planned around skills such as counting and sorting money, matching clothing, and other activities of daily living.




During the remaining time students will listen to stories, participate in tactile art, do music activities, and much more. BELL is a fun packed two weeks where students gain skills, confidence, and a life long love for Braille and Literacy.

Hours of operation: 9-3

Cost info: Donations accepted.

Program Status:
Active