BELL Academy

BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy & Learning ) Academy

The National Federation of the Blind of Illinois is pleased to announce the:
NFB BELL® Academy In-Home Edition Registration

While we are living in unprecedented times, we know that the National Federation of the Blind has and will continue to meet the challenge of the times with hope, love, and determination. One of the commitments we made early in this COVID-19 pandemic was to provide resources for blind children and their families and supporting the teaching of critical nonvisual techniques and Braille literacy at home. We want to make sure that students, parents, and volunteers have the best NFB BELL® Academy experience possible. We are condensing our academies into three nationally taught and coordinated sessions with support from NFB affiliates. This summer two-week-long sessions of NFB BELL® Academy will take place at 11:00 a.m. EDT and at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Each session will last for 45 minutes during the following dates:

  • June 1, 2020 through June 12, 2020
  • June 22, 2020 through July 3, 2020
  • July 27, 2020 through August 7, 2020

Please note the 11:00 a.m. session taking place June 22, 2020 through July 3, 2020 will also be conducted in Spanish.

Each registered student will receive the materials to complete all lessons alongside their parent/guardian via mail. Each day during the two-week session, there will be two opportunities to connect via web or phone with an experienced teacher. This gives students and families the opportunity to ask questions and get to know each other.

Complete the registration form to sign up for one of our NFB BELL® Academy sessions (spaces are limited). The cost of this program is free to participating families. However, if you wish to support our efforts in providing Braille literacy please visit

The NFBI BELL Team will be supporting this program and maintaining daily contacts with all enrolled students from Illinois. We are looking forward to your participation and value any input you have on how we can make this a successful program for our students. Please contact the Illinois BELL® Academy Coordinator Amy Lund at 217-816-5060 or at if you have any questions or need help or guidance. Thank You!

2019 BELL Academy

The National Federation of the Blind recently wrapped up the 2019 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

Thomas Howe’s BELL speech given during 2019 NFBI State Convention

Hello, my name is Thomas. I am a sixth grader and I am visually impaired, I have a rare disease called Retinoschisis. It’s a macular degenerative disease.

This is my third year attending the WONDERFUL Bell Academy. I have really enjoyed it every year I come. I always learn lots of new things (Braille/O&M). It teaches unfamiliar ideas to me and I love it! I really do love to learn.

Bell has given me the confidence to show others how much I enjoy learning (Braille and Print). My favorite part of Bell has always been the blindfolded activities. I also love the field trips we do every year. Of course! Without Bell I would not be as confident with my cane, braille, and street crossing skills. Bell Academy has helped me achieve goals in braille and discover new things about myself, I didn’t even realize. And make new, great friends.

Thank you Ms. Amy and Ms. Lauren for continuing this extremely fantastic program, and all the excellent, dedicated volunteer mentors, Mr. Bill, Katie, Sara, and Alyssa. You guys have made things possible that I didn’t know were options.

Additional Information

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