National Center for Blind Youth in Science: Accountability Evaluation
As part of a grant from the National Science Foundation, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) developed, implemented, and evaluated the National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS), a three-year full-scale development project to increase informal learning opportunities for blind youth in STEM. Through this grant, the NCBYS extended opportunities for informal science learning for the direct benefit of blind students by conducting six NFB STEM2U regional programs included programs for blind youth, their parents/caregivers, blind teen mentors (apprentices), and museum educators. Additionally, there was a separate program for blind teens, entitled the Engineering Quotient (NFB EQ) program and a teacher professional development program.
Youth valued their program for providing opportunities to be independent and be with peers. They developed their blindness skills (especially cane skills), science process skills, and team building skills. Youth believed these skills would help them both in and out of school. Parents/caregivers believe the youth program helped their child develop science skills and the skills necessary to be successful in society. Youth intend to use the team building and science process skills they learned in their workshop in their science classes. They also believe that the life and blindness skills they learned/reviewed during the workshop would be useful throughout life.
Parents/caregivers and teachers valued the opportunity their respective programs provided for networking with others in similar situations. Teachers expanded their abilities to use accessible lab equipment and hands-on STEM lessons with their students. Museum staff valued their training for increasing their awareness to the issues faced by blind visitors. During the training, museum staff increased their skills to effectively describe science content and assist blind visitors throughout the museum. Museum staff feel more confident in helping blind visitors and intend to add additional braille signage and new programs which are not as reliant on visual cues.