NFB EQ

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 the major airport closest to your home to Baltimore, Maryland (BWI). The NFB will handle the booking of airfare for participants.
    2. Transportation from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) 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 participation in the program, please reach out to the NFB EQ team.

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

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 them 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 Baltimore: A member of the NFB staff will meet each participant at their gate upon arrival in Baltimore. 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 Baltimore?

A: The NFB only purchases flights for participants. If a parent/guardian wishes to fly with a participant to Baltimore, they must book and pay for their 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 Baltimore (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 STEM@nfb.org 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. 

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

A: The NFB Jernigan Institute has sleeping and dining facilities on site. Participants will share a dormitory-style sleeping room with at least one other participant of the same gender. Each sleeping room has an en suite bathroom. Towels and linens will be provided for each participant. Participants should plan to bring their own toiletries. 

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 accommodate 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.

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 the lessons are hands on.

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.

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.

Contact Us

Do you have questions for the team? Send them to:

STEM@nfb.org
(410) 659-9314, extension 2418

National Federation of the Blind
ATTN: NFB EQ
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Learn About Previous NFB STEM Programs

2018 NFB EQ

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