BELL Academy

BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy & Learning ) Academy

Thank you for helping the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois (NFBI) sponsor its 2019 BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy & Learning) Academies. Please stay tuned for next year’s details.

NFB BELL Academy – Placing Hands on the Future

NFB BELL Academy – Placing Hands on the Future

The NFB BELL Academy helped blind and low-vision children, ages four through twelve, develop the literacy skills that will empower them to achieve their academic goals and live the lives they want. This year, with the assistance of our Wells Fargo partners, we provided opportunities for students to imagine, create, and touch their future and dreams; by not only raising expectations through Braille instruction, but by nurturing their development of tactile arts and graphics. Through the generous support of the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, each student participant in the 2019 NFB BELL Academies were provided with an inTACT Sketchpad. To learn more about the NFB BELL Academy, visit

Application Steps

Please note that the application process for NFB BELL Academy contains several steps:

  1. Fill out the NFB BELL Application Form at
  2. After you submit the application, you will receive a confirmation email. That confirmation email will direct you to fill out the Permission and Release Forms at
  3. After you complete the permission and release forms, you will receive another confirmation email. This second confirmation email will contain your answers to the permission and release forms.
  4. Print out this second confirmation email, and sign and date it at the bottom of the last page.
  5. Send the signed confirmation email to the BELL Academy state coordinator listed on the email.

2018 BELL Academy

The National Federation of the Blind recently wrapped up the 2018 Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy. We conducted programs in Chicago and Springfield. This was a great opportunity for Braille skills to be addressed in a fun and new environment.

We would like to thank all of the parents, teachers, volunteers and kids who participated for making this years program a hit! Read our Newsletters to find out more about how the program went. To read the newsletters, please visit the BELL Academy Newsletters page.

hear from one of our BELL parents

Dear BELL Contributor,

Thank you so much for your support of the BELL program. This was the third year we attended with our daughter, who is completely blind, and every year we take away something new to be better parents and teachers to her. We are so fortunate to be able to participate in this amazing program and learn first hand about new technology, preparing for college, getting a guide dog, and so much other invaluable information from sources we normally wouldnt have access too. Every year our family looks forward to returning and seeing the mentors and friends we’ve made over the years during this journey. Thank you again for all you do and for giving us this wonderful opportunity.

Ash-lee and Family

NFB Code of Conduct & NFBI Sexual Abuse & Molestation Policy

The National Federation of the Blind Code of Conduct and the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois Sexual Abuse & Molestation Policy will apply to our gatherings during the BELL Academy.

BELL Academy Sponsorship Request for 2020

You Can Help Sponsor Next Summer’s BELL Academy
From Ice Cream to T-Shirts, Braille Paper to Pizza

Please consider the opportunity to help sponsor some part of the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy next summer in Chicago and Springfield.

The BELL Academy is a one to two-week program for vision impaired and blind children ages 4 through 12, many of whom have had minimal exposure to braille. The program presents opportunities to enhance braille and blindness skills. Instruction in activities of daily living furthers the children’s independence and self-sufficiency. Blind mentors and volunteers provide excellent role models, keeping expectations high and proving that blindness is not the characteristic that defines one’s future. All BELL Academy children receive a free white cane and a free slate and stylus from the National Federation of the Blind.

Please review and consider the following list of sponsorships. Thank you.

  • $200 Tee shirts for all participants
  • $200 Supplies for arts and crafts
  • $150 Christmas in July party with Santa
  • $100 Louis Braille birthday party
  • $100 Various games: Twister, Bingo, etc.
  • $30 Mid-week pizza party
  • $30 Braille paper
  • $20 Dark lined paper
  • $15 20/20 pens
  • $10 Snacks per day
  • $5 Water for each day

Sponsorship for Tactile Graphic Products

Competence in understanding and using tactile/raised-line illustrations is critical for blind children both for academic and expressive needs. Thanks to the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, each BELL Academy program will receive an InTact Sketch Pad electric eraser and all of the students will receive inTACT Sketchpads. The following four items promote this important but often less-recognized subject area.

  1. 4 or more Sensational Graphics Blackboards at $49.95. Here’s a short video:
  2. 3D Doodler Pens, $100 each with “ink” strands. More packs of “ink strands” cost $12.00 for a 25-pack.
  3. Additional InTact Sketch Pad electric erasers, $150 each
  4. InTact Sketch Pad paper: 100 sheets for $24.00

Note: We have received several sponsorships prior to this posting, and we thank those that have made the donation.

Once again, thanks for your interest and support to drive the BELL Academy vehicle along the road to literacy and learning for blind children. Together, with love, hope and determination, we transform dreams into reality.

Please make checks payable to NFB of Illinois and mail to:

Patti Chang, Treasurer
6919 W. Berwyn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60656

In the memo, please write “BELL.” Any sponsorship in any amount will be appreciated.

Additional Information

To learn more about the NFB of Illinois BELL Academy programs, please contact Amy Lund, our state BELL coordinator, at or by phone at 217-816-5060.

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