Imagine a Future Full of Opportunity

About the Jernigan Institute

Jim Gashel holding a KNFB Reader A you girl holds a reading certificate Little boy looking at a T-Rex fossil

In 1999, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) commenced the "Campaign to Change What it Means to be Blind." The campaign goal was to raise $19.5 million to build a one-of-a-kind research and training institute on blindness. In 2001, the groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Institute site adjacent to the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind. In 2003, Dr. Betsy Zaborowski was named the first Executive Director of the Institute.

On January 30, 2004, the NFB proudly celebrated the Grand Opening of the Institute with more than 1,400 guests from across the country. That same day, the Board of Directors of the National Federation of the Blind unanimously voted to name it the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.

Dr. Kenneth Jernigan was the most prominent and effective leader in the field of blindness of the 20th century, and it was his dream to build a research and training facility which would revolutionize attitudes about blindness and promote independence and greater opportunities for blind people. The NFB Jernigan Institute will be the most effective means of developing and disseminating resources and programs for the blind in the 21st century.


The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute leads the quest to understand the real problems of blindness and to develop innovative education, technologies, products, and services that help the world's blind to achieve independence.

Jernigan Institute Initiatives

  • Research, develop, and support the commercialization of technologies for meeting the needs of the blind as articulated by the world's blind population
  • Develop innovative training methods and education for the entire blind population with special emphasis on underserved populations, e.g., blind seniors and blind children
  • Improve nonvisual access to and use of information through innovative technologies and Braille education
  • Evaluate, develop, and implement programs to increase employment opportunities for the blind

Institute Staff

Anil Lewis, Executive Director
Patricia Maurer, Director of Reference, Jacobus tenBroek Library

The NFB Jernigan Institute is supported through a wide variety of funding sources. Individual contributions are the most significant source of support for the grassroots work of the Institute. Make an online gift.