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Idaho Needs To See

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Idaho Needs To SeeResources for the Blind and Visually Impared

Oct 31, 2013 Posted by haligoodrich In News    Comments (0)

Published by The Arbiter

There are 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired.

In the United States alone, there are four million people who face life with blindness.

October is World Blindness Awareness Month and the world’s largest non-profit organization for the blind and visually impaired, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is raising awareness.

There are six chapters of the NFB in Idaho which are working toward educating the public and raising awareness for the blind

“The problems that we see stem from a lack of education and awareness.  So I took it upon myself to change that,” said Sean Malone of the Snake River Valley Chapter.

Malone lost his eyesight four years ago and is doing his part to bring to attention the many programs for families, children and Idahoans to further their education on the subject.

According to Malone, giving back to a population that is in need of a little extra support is accessible and easy once people become aware of the situation.

Louis Braille created the 6-dot code known today as the Braille system alphabet in 1823. This was the first movement for blindness advocacy and assistance.

Fifty-eight years later, Helen Keller brought national recognition to the everyday struggles of the blind

“Currently less than 10 percent of all blind children are being taught braille in school. One of the missions of the NFB is to promote the use of braille,” said Mike Gibson the assistive technology coordinator at the  Boise State Disability Resource Center.

The Treasure Valley Chapter of the NFB, puts on a fundraiser every spring called Cycle for Independence. With a  successful 2012 ride of 480 riders total, the NFB has announced the 2013 ride  has been scheduled for
May 18.

Riders can choose either 10 mile or 25 mile distances and the proceeds go to
the NFB.

A community race that is an easy way to get involved for citizens of Boise, students of Boise State and people from all around Idaho.

For children that are blind or becoming blind, the Snake River Valley Chapter holds a summer camp called BELL, Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning.

This camp is for children ages 4 to 12.

“The kids learn how to read and write Braille, walk with a white cane and function in society,” Malone said.

The first year of the BELL program was this past

With a total of four students, it is the start of a program that will continue to grow and give children the tools and confidence to live with blindness.

The Boise community supplies many other tools that students can take advantage of that haven’t been taught to read Braille.The NBB is not just concerned with Blind Awareness Month but every day and month in between.

“I want to bring awareness to everybody, to people in this area that are visually impaired or blind and those that aren’t,”
Malone said.

The volunteer opportunities on campus through the Disability Resource Center and in the community with the NFB are endless.

For  volunteer opportunities, contact Mike Gibson directly at or Vickie Bateman at .

For more information on the individual chapters and upcoming events put on by the NBP in Idaho visit
– See more at:


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