The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Research Advisory Council

NFB Research Mission:

The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute (NFBJI) is the first research and training facility developed and directed by blind people. The NFBJI is committed to promoting innovative research concerning blindness to help deepen our understanding of the real problems that face blind people and to help the world’s blind increase independence, self-respect, and self-determination. NFBJI research has included the investigation of new approaches toward the education and rehabilitation of the blind; attitudes toward the blind; innovations relating to the use of Braille; quality of life issues; and cutting-edge technologies, products, and services developed by and for the blind.

To advance its research mission, the NFBJI has created a process by which researchers can collaborate with the NFB on research projects, obtain assistance or advice, or obtain help recruiting participants for their research studies.

Research Advisory Council:

The RAC is a group of uniquely qualified individuals who serve as a consultative body to the NFBJI on research priorities. The RAC identifies appropriate independent and collaborative research projects and, through research, pursues opportunities to strengthen the breadth and depth of influence of the NFBJI in the blindness research arena.

The 2017 Members of the Research Advisory Council are:

Edward Bell, Ph.D., director, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness, Louisiana Tech University

• Lou Ann Blake, J.D., deputy executive director, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute

Curtis Chong, manager of assistive technology, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind

• Seth Lamkin, grant program officer, the National Federation of the Blind

• Anil Lewis, executive director, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute

• Matt Maurer, Ph.D., professor of instructional technology, Butler University

Fredric Schroeder, Ph.D., research professor, San Diego State University

• Natalie Shaheen, educational consultant

Arielle Silverman, Ph.D., disability research consultant

Cary Supalo, Ph.D., visiting scientist, Purdue University; research developer, the Educational Testing Service

Eric Vasiliauskas, M.D., associate clinical director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Research Topics of Interest to the NFBJI:

• Youth and Mentoring

Identification of blind youth who have learned how to use a personal computer and investigation of how they acquired such learning

• Braille and Literacy

The impact of refreshable Braille displays on reading fluency

The impact of the length of Braille displays on reading comprehension

The most efficient ways to read with refreshable Braille

How to improve the efficiency of refreshable Braille displays

How electronic format has changed Braille teaching strategies

Effective Braille instruction, and strategies to combat poor Braille instruction

Environmental influences on Braille reading fluency

Techniques used by fast Braille readers, including how they were taught

Improved methodologies for providing the blind with access to visual information

Best practices for the blind to understand visual information through non-visual methods

Improvements in the creation of tactile graphics

Strategies for teaching visual intelligence

Impact of the age at which a person becomes blind

What can be learned about the brain of the blind through MRI scan studies

• Adults in Rehabilitation, Education, and Employment

The most effective methods for the blind to find employment

The impact of parent advocacy on the employment of blind children

Barriers faced by blind adults entering science, technology, engineering, and math professions

The Impact of exposure to successful blind people at blind consumer conventions on outcomes achieved by vocational rehabilitation counselors

Case studies of teachers of the blind achieving exceptional results with students

Case studies of blind students with additional disabilities who are learning Braille

Recruitment of Blind and Low Vision Research Participants:

Are you a researcher interested in working with the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute to recruit participants for your study? Please complete the online Research Review Form to tell us a bit about your study and what the experience will be like for participants. This information will help readers decide if they would like to participate in the study. We will review this information for completeness and will let you know if more detail is needed to inform the potential participants about the study. Please contact Lou Ann Blake for additional information.

Research Projects of Interest:

1. AT&T Persons with Disabilities Communications Services

Researcher: Paul Wong

Purpose of Project: to build a working knowledge of how to improve technology and communications services, as well as the marketing of such services, to the blind, deaf, hard of hearing, and/or cognitively impaired communities

Sponsoring Organization: Kantar Added Value/AT&T

2. GRE Usability Study

Researchers: Carlos Cavalie, Mark Hakkinen

Purpose of Project: to examine the accessibility and usability of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for screen reader users and screen magnification users and to help the Educational Testing Service improve the accuracy and fairness of assessments for students with visual disabilities. The focus is on methods of testing, not participant ability.  

Sponsoring Organization: Educational Testing Service

3. Transportation Accessibility Needs of Individuals with Vision Loss

Researcher: Danene Fast

Purpose of Project: to gather opinions of consumers with visual impairments concerning recommended training for public transportation workers to address the accessibility needs of passengers with visual impairments

 Sponsoring Organization: The Ohio State University

4. Experiences of Those with Visual Impairments in Physical Activity/Education

Researcher: Justin Haegele

Purpose of Project: to understand the meaning of experiences in physical education and physical activity among individuals with visual impairments to provide insight into how educational practices should be changed to enhance these experiences 

Sponsoring Organization: Old Dominion University

Blind Graduate Students Seeking a Mentor:

If you are a blind masters or PhD student and are interested in the guidance and support of a Research Advisory Council member to serve as mentor and/or informal advisor to you in your research, please contact Lou Ann Blake.