The Florida Department of Education teamed up with the Center for the Visually Impaired of Central Florida to help local blind and visually impaired students experience the joys of summer reading and learn about the upcoming solar eclipse.
“It is critical that all Florida students read throughout the summer to maintain and enhance the skills they gained during the school year,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “The timing of this partnership is particularly important as it enabled these students to take part in the excitement surrounding the solar eclipse. This is a great example of state and local entities working together to benefit Florida students, and we are thrilled to join in the fun.”
Participants, ages 6-12, were provided embossed braille excerpts of children’s books and teaching tools from the National Library Service (NLS). NASA also presented participants with a braille tactile map, to learn about the upcoming solar eclipse, which will take place August 21.
Using the national 2017 Collaborative Summer Library Program’s theme, “Build a Better World,” the reading program kept the traditional goal of encouraging reading during summer vacation, while concurrently building a community among visually impaired children. “Build a Better World” exposed the students to engineering, architecture and astronomy in the reading materials and crafts. The students also enjoyed the merits of volunteering in their community by donating a project to a cause – creating dog toys for the local animal shelter.
“The ‘Build a Better World’ summer reading program offered students an enhanced learning environment and provided them with the opportunity to engage with their peers, participate in hands-on activities and learn more about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields,” said Division of Blind Services Director Robert Doyle. “This collaboration brought together the expertise and resources of organizations that are committed to the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community.”
The NLS Braille and Talking Book Library has more than 2.4 million items (audio books, braille, large print, etc.) available. The NLS Braille and Audio Download (BARD) collection contains 97,324 books, 17,086 braille and 80,238 digital. There are nearly 32,000 patrons, individuals and institutions, around the state enrolled in the Florida Talking Books network. For more information about the Division of Blind Services, visit dbs.myflorida.com.
For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit www.fldoe.org.