Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Category: National
Mark Riccobono
Executive Director
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
(410) 659-9314, extension 2368
(410) 935-4019 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Launches NFB Project Innovation

Innovation Expo Will Feature Findings by Blind Youth 
on Topics Ranging from Space Elevators to Hovercrafts

Baltimore, Maryland (July 25, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) today launched its first-ever NFB Project Innovation as part of its National Center for Blind Youth in Science initiative.  This program, held through July 28, at the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, will expose twenty-nine blind students of a variety of ages to nonvisual practices that facilitate their involvement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), encourage mentoring and leadership development in blind youth, and encourage innovation and scientific experimentation for blind students in the classroom. 

NFB Project Innovation brings together blind STEM experts, adult blind mentors, blind high school students, and blind elementary students (grades 3–6) and their parents/guardians.  The program facilitates student-directed learning, as each NFB Project Innovation participant chooses their course of study.  Throughout the five-day program, students will learn from blind leaders in their respective fields as they investigate their area of study. 

On Saturday, July 28, NFB Project Innovation will culminate in the Innovation Expo, where the students will reveal the results of their multi-day investigations.  The students will be presenting their findings on diverse topics ranging from space elevators and hovercrafts to nonvisual dissection and the science of ice cream!  The expo will be held from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the NFB Jernigan Institute. 

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Much of society still perpetuates the damaging misconception that blind people cannot participate in STEM fields.   NFB Project Innovation counteracts that misconception by introducing blind youth to successful blind mentors in these fields and giving the students the tools needed to learn the nonvisual methods that will allow them to participate and excel in science, technology, engineering, and math.   And unlike other science programs where students are assigned fields of study, NFB Project Innovation allows its participants to chart their own course, which will instill in them an even greater confidence in their own capacity for achievement.  The NFB Project Innovation participants will leave this program with the belief that they can compete on an equal playing field with their sighted peers in the STEM fields, as well as in all other aspects of life.” 

NFB Project Innovation is made possible by its generous sponsors, including Motorola Solutions Foundation, the National Security Agency, Northrop Grumman, and the UPS Foundation


About the National Federation of the Blind  

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.