Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What costs can families expect to incur?

A: Families should incur minimal expenses in sending their child to NFB EQ.

Here are the details:

  1. There is no registration or application fee for this program.
  2. The National Federation of the Blind will cover participants’ travel, room, and board for the duration of the week, including the following:
    1. Air fare from your closest major airport to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The NFB will book air fare solely for your child. 
    2. Transportation from Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) to/from the program sites
    3. Room and board for the duration of the program.
    4. Event and activity admission for all program-related activities. For example, if the group goes to a museum during the week, the NFB will cover admission for all participants.

Families are responsible for the following expenses:

  1. Transportation to and from the home airport (e.g., gas or taxi fare)
  2. Airline baggage fees where applicable. Many airlines charge for checked baggage and fees vary by airline (usually $50 roundtrip). Some airlines, such as Southwest Airlines, do not charge baggage fees. Participants will receive information about their travel itinerary and airline at least two weeks prior to the start of the program. We try our best to book all participants on Southwest Airlines. 
  3. Meals, snacks, or other purchases made at the airport while traveling.
  4. Any personal expenses, such as souvenirs.

If you have questions about any financial costs associated with participating in NFB EQ or if these costs may pose a barrier to your child’s participation in the program, please reach out to the NFB EQ team.

Q: Do I need to book my child’s flight to Minneapolis?

A: No. The NFB will book your child’s flight and send the itinerary to you at least two weeks prior to the program. If you have time constraints please note them on your registration form. If you have questions about flights or itineraries, please reach out to the NFB EQ team.

Q: My child has never flown alone before. I am nervous for him/her to travel alone. Can you tell me a little more about managing the airport? Is there anyone I can talk to about my concerns?

A: We understand your concern. Many parents/guardians are nervous about their children traveling across the country alone. The NFB has been facilitating summer youth programs since 2004 and all of our high school students have traveled across the country to the programs independently and without incident. Some participants have traveled from as far away as Alaska, making two connections independently.

Airports are required to provide assistance upon request: Youth who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable navigating airports independently may request assistance (i.e., a sighted guide) from airport personnel; the airport is required to provide such services free of charge thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act. A participant can request assistance to navigate their home airport or to make a connection at an intermediate airport. Participants can request assistance at the ticket counter when they check in for their flight.

Parents/guardians can also request a ‘gate pass’ at the ticket counter of their home airport and walk their child to the departure gate themselves.

Arrival in Minneapolis: A member of the NFB staff will meet each participant at their gate upon arrival in Minneapolis. The staff member will escort the participant to baggage claim to gather their luggage and then to the shuttle that will transport participants to the program site. 

I still need more information: We would be more than happy to talk with you about the travel portion of the program. We can share with you how blind people navigate airports independently and successfully and answer any additional questions that you may have. We are also happy to connect you with parents who have sent their children to previous NFB programs, if you would find that beneficial. Please reach out to the NFB EQ team using the contact information below and let us know how we can help.

Q: May I fly with my child to Minneapolis?

A: The NFB only purchases flights for participants. If a parent/guardian wishes to fly with a participant to Baltimore, s/he must book and pay for his/her ticket. Please keep in mind that if you travel with your child parents/guardians/families may not attend the NFB EQ program with the participant. 

Q: I would prefer to drive my child to NFB EQ; will you reimburse me for mileage?

A: You are welcome to drive your child to NFB EQ. After the program is over, the NFB will calculate your reimbursement by determining which of the following two figures is smaller:

  1. The reimbursement rate for the mileage from your home to the program site (limited to one round trip) is 45¢ per mile. For example, if your home were 200 miles from the program site, your mileage reimbursement rate would be $90 (200 miles x .45¢) each way for a total of $180.
  2. The cost NFB would have incurred to book a flight for the participant to fly to Minneapolis (from the closest major airport). For example, if your home is 400 miles from the program site, a ticket might cost $250.

In the above example, a parent who chose to drive their child 400 miles round trip to and from NFB EQ, would receive a check for $180 (the mileage reimbursement) because that is the smaller of the two figures.

One could imagine another example in which a parent chose to drive their child 1,000 miles from their home to NFB EQ and back. A round-trip ticket for a participant traveling 1,000 miles might have cost $450.

Hypothetical Flight = $450

Round-trip Mileage reimbursement = $900 (1,000 miles x .45¢ x 2)

In this hypothetical, then, the parent would be reimbursed $450 (the smaller of the two figures).

Q: May family members participate in the program alongside the blind/low-vision youth?

A: There are only 30 slots available at NFB EQ. To ensure that the program can reach as many blind and low-vision youth as possible, all 30 slots are reserved for blind and low-vision youth currently enrolled in grades 9-12 in a US high school (public, private, charter, residential, or home school).

Family members are encouraged to stay in touch with participants throughout the week. Participants have free time in the evening, which they may use to communicate with family and friends back home. Family members are also encouraged to follow the NFB on Twitter, InstagramFacebook and YouTube to keep up with all of the program activities. Finally, family members are welcome to call the NFB EQ program team any time during the program if they have questions or concerns. The 24 hour program hotline number will be provided to participants and their families prior to the start of NFB EQ.

Q: Is it possible to be a blind mentor or volunteer for the program?

A: We have very limited spaces for mentors/volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or volunteer please email with your interest. Please provide information about your involvement with the Federation, why you would like to be a mentor/volunteer and information about yourself. Please note all mentors/volunteers will be required to undergo a crimnal background check. 

Q: Where do the participants sleep and eat during the program?

A: We will stay at a local hotel near the Science Musuem of Minnesota. We will announce the name of the hotel at a later date. Participants will share a room with one other participant of the same gender. Each room will have a private bathroom. 

Participants will be served breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Participants who have food allergies or dietary restrictions should provide that information in their registration form. The more information you share about your food allergies/dietary restrictions the better we can be prepared to accomodate your child. 

Q: What is the adult to youth ratio at NFB EQ?

A: There will be at least one adult for every three youth at NFB EQ. NFB EQ personnel will supervise participants 24/7 throughout the program, including during evening recreation, free time, and overnight at the hotel.

Q: I am graduating from high school in the spring of 2019, am I eligible to attend NFB EQ?

A: Yes! Any blind or low-vision teen that is enrolled in grades 9-12 during the 2018-2019 school year is eligible to apply for NFB EQ.

Q: I am in 8th grade, am I eligible to attend NFB EQ?

A: Unfortunately, you are too young this year. However, stay tuned because we are planning to facilitate NFB EQs in 2020 and 2021. We hope you will apply to attend a future NFB EQ! In the meantime, we encourage you to connect with the National Association of Blind Students, which runs a variety of programs and activities for high school and college students. Middle school students may find interest in our NFB BELL Academy.

Q: I am a freshman in college, am I eligible to attend NFB EQ?

A: Unfortunately, you are too old for the program. However, there are many other NFB programs and activities for which you are eligible as a college student. We encourage you to connect with the National Association of Blind Students, which runs a variety of programs and activities for high school and college students. We also encourage you to consider applying for an NFB scholarship; the application begins November 1, 2018 and ends March31, 2019.

Q: Do I have to be good at science to attend this program? Do I have to like science to attend this program?

A: Nope. Blind and low-vision youth who are currently enrolled in grades 9-12 in the US and are interested in meeting new people and learning new things are encouraged to apply. Your aptitude in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is not as important as your willingness to spend the week engaged in engineering-related activities. Some former participants have found that they enjoy the activities at programs like NFB EQ more than science in school because the activities are more accessible to them, they are not the only blind/low-vision student in the class, there is no pressure to get a certain grade, and there are no tests.

Q: How does the NFB select participants from the pool of applicants? What criteria are used?

A: The NFB believes that a diverse group of participants creates a rich learning environment for everyone. Consequently, in reviewing applications, NFB looks for participants who 1) meet the program criteria (i.e., blind/low-vision youth who are enrolled in grades 9-12 in the US) and 2) are diverse with respect to their race, ethnicity, gender, age (across grades 9-12), geographic location (within the US), disability (in addition to blindness/low vision), educational background, extracurricular interests, and prior participation in NFB programs and activities.

Q: I've already attended a NFB EQ program in the past. I had so much fun and learned a lot! May I apply again?

A: Absolutely! Everyone is always encouraged to apply; however, one of the criteria we look at when accepting students is your prior participation in NFB programs and activities. The likelyhood of being accepted for students who have not attended our programs is higher.

Q: I live outside of the US; may I apply for NFB EQ?

A: NFB EQ is only open to blind and low-vision youth who are currently enrolled in grades 9-12 in the United States. If you live outside of the US and US territories we encourage you to contact the World Blind Union to find out if there are blindness organizations in your country that offer similar youth programs.

Meet the Team

NFB EQ, which is part of the NSF-funded Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research project, is developed and facilitated by an interdisciplinary team of professionals from three organizations: the National Federation of the Blind, Utah State University, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Team members have expertise in numerous applicable fields including: blindness, K-12 education, special education, informal education, engineering, STEM, engineering education, art, and research. We would like to introduce you to some of the key personnel who will be working with NFB EQ participants this summer.

In addition to the individuals introduced below, a handful of blind adult mentors will be working with NFB EQ participants. These mentors travel from all over the country to Baltimore to share their unique skills and life experiences with NFB EQ students. The mentoring relationships that develop at NFB EQ are frequently maintained for years after the program. Former NFB EQ participants have reached out to their mentors to get advice about navigating university campuses and politics or preparing for their first job interview.

Anil Lewis

Anil LewisAnil Lewis currently serves as the executive director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and the principal investigator for the National Federation of the Blind’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research Project. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1964, he became blind from retinitis pigmentosa, a retinal degenerative eye disease, in 1989. He subsequently earned his bachelors of business administration in computer information systems at Georgia State University (GSU), and earned his master’s degree in public administration with emphasis in policy analysis and program evaluation from GSU in 2003. Mr. Lewis was employed at a local community rehabilitation center as a Braille and assistive technology instructor, and within a year he was given the greater responsibility of job development/placement specialist, helping clients develop employment skills and get jobs. Mr. Lewis went on to develop and manage a job placement program for people with disabilities as the manager of the Disability Employment Initiative with Randstad Staffing, one of the largest employment staffing companies in the world, during the Atlanta Olympic and Para-Olympic Games in 1996. From then until early 2006 he was employed by the law offices of Martin and Jones as the Georgia Client Assistance Program (CAP) counselor/advocate, representing people with disabilities every day.

Wade Goodridge

Wade GoodridgeDr. Wade Goodridge is an assistant professor in engineering education at Utah State University and is the principal researcher for the National Federation of the Blind’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research Project. Wade has 20 years of teaching experience spanning almost all education levels. Wade began teaching technology education at junior and senior high schools in the state of Utah where he received a license for secondary education from the Utah State Board of Education. After a few years of coaching students towards STEM fields, he returned to college to continue his education as a civil engineer. Wade has a BS in civil engineering and an MS and PhD. in hydraulics and fluid mechanics. Wade has worked with junior high and high school robotics programs and advised a university team in a NASA robotics competition. Wade has taught blind students engineering content centered on hydrostatics as well as design for a number of years. As a faculty member at Utah State University, Wade conducts a great deal of research in the field of engineering education, but he remains passionate about teaching, particularly mentoring the next generation of STEM professionals. Wade has eight teaching/mentoring awards for his work with students and was most recently awarded the “Teacher of the Year Award” for the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Society of Engineering Education. When not teaching or researching, you may find Wade daydreaming of his commercial fishing days back in Alaska or in the outdoors with his family.

Natalie Shaheen

Natalie ShaheenNatalie is the project director for the National Federation of the Blind’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research Project and the program director for the associated NFB EQ summer programs. Natalie holds teaching licenses in special education and the education of blind students for grades K-12. Natalie has taught blind students and students with autism and other disabilities in a wide range of settings including: charter schools, large urban public schools, residential schools, and informal educational settings. Natalie’s professional experiences, as well as her lived experiences as a blind person, have engendered a deep devotion to supporting the needs of all students with disabilities. The merit of Natalie’s work has been recognized by the bestowment of several awards including the New Leader Award from The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology and the Towson University President’s Diversity and Inclusion Award. When she is not working, Natalie loves to cook (and eat!), read, and get outside!

Mya Catherine Jones

Mya Catherine JonesMya Catherine Jones is the assistant to the executive director of the Jernigan Institute, Anil Lewis, and the logistics coordinator for NFB EQ. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Mya graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor of arts in english literature and a double minor in philosophy and theology. During her college years, she worked at Georgetown's Davis Performing Arts Center undertaking a broad range of secretarial and administrative duties. Upon graduation, in 2011, Mya served as a legal assistant at Morris, Hardwick, and Schneider LLC drafting mortgage foreclosure legal complaints. In 2013 Mya decided to change her career path and joined the public service sector at the National Federation of the Blind. In her roles, Mya has gained extensive experience with all administrative tasks and is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various responsibilities.

Peter Anderson

Peter AndersonPeter Anderson is the instructional coach at the Science Museum of Minnesota and a lead instructor for the National Federation of the Blind EQ summer program. He has a master’s in education focusing on science instruction and is licensed to teach physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science courses to high school students. He has tutored for ten years, taught in K-12 classroom for seven years, and taught at the Museum for seven years. Peter has been an instructor in several National Federation of the Blind science and engineering programs. At the Museum, Peter works on the cutting edge of hands-on science and enjoys going where none have gone before in teaching science to learners of all ages. Recently, Peter became a father and spends most of his spare time parenting.

Ann Cunningham

Ann CunninghamAnn Cunningham is an award winning author, artist, teacher, and innovator recognized by the Independent Book Publishers Association (Benjamin Franklin Award - gold), the Denver Botanic Gardens (Sydney Parkinson Award), and the National Federation of the Blind (Jacob Bolotin Award). Her work spans these diverse areas as she develops connections for people to fine art through touch. Ann passionately believes that tactile access to properly formatted art can play the same role for blind people that visual art plays for sighted people. Ann’s passion for art and nonvisual access are apparent in the energy and attention to detail that she brings to her work as a teacher. Ann has been teaching art to students at the Colorado Center for the Blind since 1999. Additionally, Ann has taught art to students in numerous National Federation of the Blind science, technology, engineering, and math programs over the last decade. Ann will be a lead instructor at this summer’s National Federation of the Blind EQ program.

Contact Us

Do you have questions for the team? Send them to:
(410) 659-9314, extension 2418

National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Learn About Previous NFB STEM Programs

2017 NFB Youth Slam

NFB Youth Slam photos on Facebook

What I learned at NFB Youth Slam

2016 NFB EQ

2016 NFB EQ photos on Facebook

2016 NFB EQ video on YouTube

NFB EQ is part of the NFB’s Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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.

Click here to go back to the NFB EQ web page

Click here to apply to the 2019 NFB EQ program