This week starts the National Federation of the Blind Bell Academy Program which teaches children who are blind how to read braille. "If a child has some vision, some professionals think they don't need to learn braille at all," The Snake River Valley Chapter President Sandy Streeter from the National Federation of the Blind of Idaho said. "This is often not a good scenario. There are different reasons why a person is visually impaired and that visual impairment can change at any time. Sometimes if a child can learn braille and print that's good but let the child decide when to use one or the other."

Streeter said the program known as the Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Academy or BELL Academy teaches blind or visually impaired students how to be independent and successful.

"We provide support to blind individuals and their families," she said. "That support can come in ways of advocating for their rights. We provide moral support sometimes."

Not only do students learn how to read braille but they also learn other life skills like how to cook or do laundry based on touch all by blind instructors.

"The National Federation for the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future," she said. "You can live the life you want and we know blindness it not what holds you back."

The program in Idaho is held in two locations one in Boise and the other at the Parks and Recreation Center in Idaho Falls. The last day of the program is on Friday the 29th of this month.

If you are blind or someone you know is blind call (208)496-2022 for more information on our special radio station that provides newspaper reading services for the sight impaired.