NFB Writing Contests

From the mailbag:

Dear Fellow NFB Members

The 2016 writing contest for youth and adults will close for submissions on April 1st. Less than a month to get your work into the competition! a


Adult contests are: short Fiction, non-fiction, stories for youth, and poetry.

Youth contest are: Short fiction, poetry, and a new category called Federation History. The youth contest is divided into three groups, determined by grade level – elementary, middle, and high school. Note, our new category, Federation History, is unique, different from the fiction and poetry contest, in respects to the following three points: First, an entry can be of any style or genre of writing as long as it pertains to the history of the National Federation of the Blind. Second, all entrants compete equally, no matter what grade they may be in. Thirdly, the best of this category will be honored at the National Convention and will be able to read their piece at one of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children’s functions.

As always, in both adult and youth contests, there may be up to three prize winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd), and one or more receiving honorable mention. Additionally, a prize winning entry may be published within the Writers’ Division’s magazine, Slate & Style.

All contest winners will be announced during the first week of July, at the Writers’ Division’s business meeting, during the NFB national convention to be held in Orlando, Florida.


*Youth contest winners will receive $30 for 1st place, $20 for 2nd place, and $10 for 3rd place.

*Adult contest winners will receive $100 for 1st place, $50 for 2nd place, and $25 for 3rd place.



*This is a contest for students who use Braille.

*Note: if you are 18 years old, or older, you must enter the adult contest.

*Entries must be submitted in hand embossed Braille, either with a slate and stylus or Braille writer, and there are no exceptions.

*Submissions must be brailed by the entrant.

*All submissions, no matter your grade level, must be in contracted Braille. Let us know if you “know” or are “learning” contracted Braille. Additionally, let us know if you have chosen to use UEB, or not.

*Each entrant must provide an identical electronic copy of the cover letter and contest entry as a Microsoft Word file [doc] or as a Rich Text Format [rtf] file).

*Attach the electronic copies to an email and send them to- EvaMarie Sanchez at

*Send your hardcopy Braille and cover letter to:

EvaMarie Sanchez

202 E Louisiana apt 2

Ruston, La 71270


Entries must be accompanied by a cover letter containing entrant’s information: Name, address, phone, e-mail, title of the entry, school, and grade of entrant.


*We will consider only unpublished original entries.

*Youth short fiction or Federation History stories submissions cannot be more than 1,000 words, and poetry of no more than 50 lines.

*Authors of either poetry, Federation History, or fiction are encouraged to submit multiple pieces.

Youth ENTRY FEES – None

Are you the best brailler in the contest? Be sure to double check your work. Remember to use braille paper so the braille is easy to read. Good luck!


*Note: this contest is for everyone 18 years old, or older.

*We will consider only unpublished original entries.

*Fiction short stories can be of any main stream genre, and cannot exceed 3,000 words.

*Non-fiction entries should be either a memoir or personal essay, and cannot exceed 3,000 words.

*Stories for youth are stories with content written at an intellectual level appropriate for the younger reader, and cannot exceed 3,000 words.

*Poetry: We will accept poetry of any length

*Authors of either poetry and/or prose are encouraged to submit multiple pieces.

*Adults are required to submit all poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and stories for youth as attachments to an E-mail message.

*The attachments must be in either Microsoft Word (doc) or Rich Text Format (rtf).

*Fiction, non-fiction and stories for youth should be written in a normal prose style, with paragraphs being left justified, lines are single spaced, and having a 14 point font of Aerial, regular.

*No hard copy submissions will be accepted.


Along with your entry or entries, include a cover letter providing the following:

*Your name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address.

*List the titles of all submissions, including the category in which they are being entered.

*State your method of payment for the entry fee (check or PayPal).

*Finally, the cover letter could be your e-mail message, or a separate document attached along with your submissions.


Adult Fees:

*The fee for each short story, non-fiction piece, or story for youth is $6.00 for members and $10.00 for non-members.

*The base fee for poetry will cover up to three poems, if the combined line-count of all three pieces does not exceed 108 lines – additional poems require a second fee, following the same fee payment scheme. Base fees are $6.00 for members and $10.00 for non-members.


*You may use PayPal from the Writers’ Division website,

*Alternatively, you may mail a check made out to NFB Writers’ Division, with a note in the memo line relating to the contest. Send to:

Shawn Jacobson

19541 Olney Mill Rd.

Olney, MD 20832.

*E-mail submissions should be sent to EvaMarie Sanchez at:

****We look forward to seeing your words. ****

If you have questions write EvaMarie Sanchez, Writers’ Division President:

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Have a Guide Dog? Want to be in a Documentary?

From the mailbag:
The National Association of Guide Dog users has been contacted by a national video production company seeking a subject for a brief documentary sponsored by a major pet food company about the relationship between a guide dog user and his dog. We are seeking a subject for this documentary who meets some specific criteria.

The subject must be a male between approximately 20–40 years of age who lost their eyesight after having once been sighted and has a light colored dog. Ideally, candidates should live in either the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast or Pacific Northwest of the US, but they are open to people in other areas for the right story. The person chosen will need to be available for production for 3-5 days between March 25 – April 4.

There will be financial compensation for appearing, and if the person chosen is the result of this search, the National Association of Guide Dog Users and the National Federation of the Blind will be given credit in the production.

If you meet these criteria and would like to be considered for this project, please send an email with your name, telephone number, email address, and the best time to contact you to

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Like Sports? Take This Survey.

From the mailbag:

Calling All Blind Sport Fans! I am researching the accessibility of sport teams’ websites and how the blind and vision impaired use these sites. Before starting the survey, we ask that you visit the official website of your favorite sports team and spend a few minutes navigating the website. After clicking on the link to begin the survey you will be asked about this experience, and what makes you a sports fan.  Please do not hesitate to contact me, Alex Cohen at, if you have any difficulty with the survey, or if you have any comments or questions. As a “thank you” for your participation, you may select for the NFB to receive a $2.00 donation for your fully completed survey. You may stop taking the survey at any time for any reason, and your response will not be counted. Here’s the link!

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Enchanted Hills Summer Music Academy

From the mailbag:

Attention visually impaired musicians age 14 to 24: 
Apply to attend an intensive ten-day session of learning and applying music 
literacy and performance skills designed for musicians who are blind or have 
low vision scheduled for the first 10 days of August, 2016. See links to a 
summary article and a brief video performance below. 
* Opportunities to read, write, record and perform music. 
* Learn to produce scores in braille music, magnified or standard print 
* Create multi-track audio productions. 
* Sing in the EHC Summer Music Academy chorus. 
* Sing or play solo or in a small group in performances at camp and in the 
* Take the option to join the Jam Band track and focus exclusively on 
playing and recording. 
* Take time for a swim, a hike, and to hang out with others who are serious 
about their music too. 
* After spending the first week in the mountains just west of Napa, 
California, enjoy the last few days of the Music Academy at the new 
headquarters of the San Francisco Lighthouse attending concerts and guest 
lecture presentations. 
All of the above for only $300 including room, board, and instructional 
sessions. Campers will need to fund their own transportation. 
For more information and to apply, see the heading: 
Music Academy: August 1 - 10, 2016 
On the page at 
One-page article describing Summer Music Academy 2015 including links to 
complete performances: 
Brief video of 2015 EHC Summer Music Academy chorus
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Summer Jobs at Colorado Center for the Blind

From the mailbag:

If you want to have an exciting and rewarding summer then we have the job for you!

The Colorado Center for the Blind is now accepting applications from positive blind role models to be residential counselors and classroom instructors in our 2016 summer programs.

We offer 3 programs for students:

Summer for Success College Prep Program

Earn and Learn High School Program

Initiation to Independence Middle School Program

Staff must be available May 24 through August 5.  Applicants must be good role models, competent in the skills of blindness, well-rounded, flexible, excellent communicator both oral and written and willing to lead by example.  Must be excited to work with blind students ages 11 -21.  Challenge recreation is an exciting component of the job.  Staff will go rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, attend martial arts classes and much more.

All staff and students will attend the national convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando!

To learn more about our summer programs, please click the following link

If interested, please contact Brent Batron at 303-778-1130 x 222 or via email at

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Research Study on Braille Learning

From the mailbag:

Hello, Dr. Tina Herzberg at the University of South Carolina Upstate and I are conducting a research study to learn more about the experiences of people ages 18 to 25 who learned braille during their K-12 program after they had learned to read and write using print.  We would like to invite these individuals to join us for an hour long focus group via phone.  The purpose is to help us better understand the transition that a person goes through when learning braille after having learned to read and write using print. We hope the information we gather can help future teachers, families, and individuals going through the transition.

To participate in the study one needs to fill out a very quick online form at to provide contact information.  If you wish to have the information in an alternative format (electronic, print, braille) please contact Dr. Rosenblum at  Once your information is received we will then follow up with an email to set up the focus group.

To ask questions or learn more please contact Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum at or  520-621-1223.

Thank you,
Penny Rosenblum and Tina Herzberg

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Living Well With a Disability

The Whole Person is offering a twelve-week health promotion & wellness workshop for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.  Click the following link for their .pdf brochure:  LWWD MAR_2016 edited

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Tavern in the Village

Location:  3901 Prairie Lane, Prairie Village, KS 66208

Cost:  Varies, depending on what you order.  You can see menus at the Web site below.  They also have a $5 children’s menu that’s not included on the site (this includes their version of chicken fingers, Peanut’s go-to order when we’re out and about).

Web site

I am by no means a food blogger, but I have to share an outstanding experience I had last week at Tavern in the Village.  As you know if you have kids of any ability, going out to eat at a nice restaurant can be a challenge.  They get bored, hungry, antsy . . . loud, disruptive, and difficult.  Tavern in the Village was equipped to handle this in the best possible way:  not only did they have the typical colorable children’s menu with crayons, but they also gave Peanut and Sprout a package of Twisty Twigs each.  That’s right:  not only did they have an activity to amuse a typical, sighted child, they had a tactile activity that kept my visually impaired kiddo happy, amused, and blessedly quiet.


Peanut makes a spider web on our table with multicolored Twisty Twigs

For those not in the know, Twisty Twigs are essentially Wiki Stix with a new name and package.  They’re essentially brightly colored string infused with wax, so they’re a little sticky and totally pose-able.  Think an easy-to-use, modern day pipe cleaner.

Tavern in the Village delighted me with how thoughtful they were for my little dinner guests:  clearly, a parent has worked here.  The crayons were triangular rather than round, making it harder for them to roll off of the table (and thereby less likely that I would have to crawl around on the floor to retrieve them).  The Twisty Twigs were great for my VI child, but the novelty also kept Sprout blessedly amused.  While we were waiting on our dinner, the waitress brought each kiddo a small ramekin of edamame to snack on–admittedly, they both said, “EWW!  It’s green!” and refused to try it, but the thought was much appreciated.  Because this establishment did its homework with having children as dinner guests, they made it so my parents and I had a wonderful evening out with two happy children.  It was lovely.


  • The parking was extremely challenging for a 5:45 dinner reservation on a Friday night.  There were several handicapped stalls at the front of the restaurant open, which is great if you have a placard; if not, be prepared to hike from your parking spot.
  • The restaurant was a little loud.  This is very likely because it was Valentine’s Day weekend and they were packed to the gills.
  • Peanut says that their French fries are the absolute best that he has ever had (and Peanut has had a LOT of French fries in his seven years).  He is dying to go back to get more fries, and he’s insistent that I must try them the next time we go.
  • I had trout with whipped potatoes and bacon Brussels sprouts.  They made Brussels sprouts taste good, and I got to feel all healthy for eating them.


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From the mailbag . . .

Are you interested or know someone who might be interested in pursuing work in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) after high school? Do you enjoy investing your talent and energy in solving real-world problems? Join the National Federation of the Blind for NFB EQ, a week-long engineering program for blind and low-vision high school students.

At this program, you will collaborate with other students to solve authentic problems that exist in developing countries. You will spend the week working on a team to engineer solutions to a given problem. Your team will create proposals with accompanying models, which you will pitch to various stakeholders. After constructing life-size prototypes of your designs, you will test them in authentic settings. You will also have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a number of engineers from across the country, some of whom happen to be blind.

To learn more and to apply, visit

The Specs

Participants: 40 blind and low-vision high school students (currently in grades 9-12); 20 students at each of the two programs.

Dates: Program 1: June 19-25, 2016; Program 2: July 31-August 6, 2016

Location: National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland

Application: Apply Now! Applications are due by Monday, April 25, 2016.

Cost: $0 (This program is free of charge).

Hashtag: #NCBYS

Additional Information

  • To be eligible to apply students must: be in grades 9-12 during the 2015-2016 school year, be blind or have low-vision, be a United States resident, and be available to attend the entire program.
  • Participant’s transportation to and from the program will be arranged by the National Federation of the Blind. Students will travel to Baltimore on Sunday and will travel home on the following Saturday.
  • This is a residential program; students will stay in dormitories at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and all meals will be provided.
  • In the evenings, after the conclusion of the instructional day, students will be engaged in various social and recreational activities.

What are students saying about EQ?

“Engineering isn’t about following instructions to the letter. It’s changing on the fly. It takes a set of skills to fundamentally change something to make it better while you’re working on it.”

“I’ve been taking engineering classes at school and now that I know there are tools [and] drafting boards. I’m going to ask for [them] next year. This program has made me more confident in what I can do.”

“Expectations for blind are really low. This program showed us all that there is a way to do things we never thought we could do. I always thought STEM seemed kind of impossible, but there are tools, techniques, and there is a way to integrate into the real world.”

“Participating in this program gave me the determination to push forward. If I hear someone say you can’t, I will push forward.”


If you have questions or require additional information, please contact:


Natalie Shaheen

NCBYS Project Director

Independent Consultant

National Federation of the Blind

410-659-9314, extension 2418


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1322855.


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.

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Winter/Spring Challenger Programs

The YMCA Challenger program is gearing up for Winter/Spring sports.  Challenger athletics are for anyone with a disability from ages 3-30; they also offer a variety of meet-ups for teens and older children.  We’re getting ready to try our very first Challenger program this Spring (soccer!!)–who knows, we might see you there!

From the mailbag:


Challenger Update: We are starting 2016 off strong and celebrating 10 years of Challenger! We finished Court Sports at Oxford Middle School with a near record breaking 40 participants! This past Saturday, 24 young adults joined us at Snow Creek for a fun afternoon of snow tubing- WOW that was a blast! Challenger is having our big fashion show next Saturday, January 30- for more information, click HEREA couple of our very own Johnson County young adults will be models for this annual benefit- looking forward to a fun night!
We have some GREAT things planned. Check out our upcoming sports and young adult events:
Sports (AGES 4 and OLDER):
BOWLING FEBRUARY 2- MARCH 8 Tuesday nights from 6-7 pm at AMF College Lanes (10201 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS)- SIGN UP NOW- SPOTS ARE FILLING QUICKLY!!!
SOCCER-  MARCH 23- APRIL 27 Wednesday nights from 6-7 pm at Arrowhead Administrative Center (6601 Santa Fe Dr, Overland Park, KS) 
Young Adult Events (AGES 12 and OLDER):
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6- VALENTINE’S ART  12:30-3:30 pm at Paul Henson YMCA (4200 W 79th Street, Prairie Village, KS)-
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12- VALENTINE’S PARTY *NORTH KC YMCA   5- 8:30 pm at North Kansas City YMCA (1999 Iron Street, North Kansas City, MO)- 
You can register online (see our web page- or call any YMCA (Paul Henson- 913-642-6800).
Thank you to those who have already registered! Please let me know if you have ANY questions about the program. We are always looking for more athletes and buddies 🙂 If you are a new participant- WELCOME!
Hope to talk to you soon,

Rachel Oswald, CTRS
Adaptive Program Coordinator
YMCA of Greater Kansas City
Paul Henson Family YMCA
4200 W 79th Street
Prairie Village, KS 66208
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