For Students

Helping Blind and Visually Impaired Students to live the life they want as active, successful scholars

What is the Mission? The Maryland Association of Blind Students (MDABS), a division of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, offers information, support, and encouragement to students in high school, college, and post-graduate studies. Our goals are to connect students statewide to discuss issues, share solutions, and make a difference for future blind students. MDABS offers everything from advice on how to overcome negative attitudes of school personnel to information on paying for college and obtaining specialized training. Contact: Christopher Nusbaum, President of MDABS at mdabs@nfbmd.org or 443-547-2409. For the latest MDABS news and events go to MDABS Twitter: @MDABS_NFB and Facebook pafe: Maryland Association of Blind Students.

Paying for College

Several scholarships are available specifically for students who are blind or visually impaired. The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, through its John T. McCraw Scholarship Program, offers two scholarships for students who either live in Maryland or attend a higher education institution in Maryland. Go to John T. McCraw Scholarship Program page for application and additional information. The National Federation of the Blind offers thirty scholarships that range from $3,000 to $12,000. For an application and further information, go to https://nfb.org/scholarships Each year, Learning Ally offers two endowed scholarship awards for outstanding students with print and learning disabilities. For more information and to apply, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/home

Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) Phone: (800) 433-3243 Web site: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/home. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, has a variety of resources available to help blind and visually impaired students fund their education beyond high school. Some resources such as the FAFSA are in Braille. Other resources are in audio. One audio release called Funding Your Education: Audio Highlights helps students prepare for college, career, technical, or trade school; make decisions about choosing a career or a school; know what to look for, and what to look out for, in financing their education, and much more. For specific information about these specialized formats, contact David Rives at (202) 377-3226 or email at dave.rives@ed.gov.

Networking Opportunities

The Maryland Association of Blind Students offers numerous opportunities for students to meet other students. Through special activities at the annual state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland, students can engage not only with other blind students, but also with successful blind adults who can serve as mentors and sources of information about various careers. MDABS also holds meetings, social gatherings, and special seminars throughout the year. High schoolers may explore participation in extracurricular activities. Can a blind student play an instrument in the marching band, be a member of the swim team or be the class president? College students compare notes on the latest technologies and debate the best ways to get an internship. All students discuss dating, fashion, music and much, much more. To get the latest news and answers to your questions, sign up for the MDABS list serve at: http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/mdabs_nfbnet.org Members of MDABS are also members of the dynamic National Association of Blind Students (NABS). Individuals have access to information about specific schools and about blindness issues such as obtaining accessible instructional materials because they can consult with other students throughout the nation. NABS active list serve provides lively discussion of pertinent issues as well as a good place to ask questions. You can sign up for the list serve at http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nabs-l_nfbnet.org. NABS holds meetings each summer at the National Federation of the Blind National Convention, and in the winter at the Washington Seminar of the NFB. To learn more about NABS or to research more student resources, visit http://www.nabslink.org.

Special Training Programs

The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) exists to help persons with disabilities join the workforce. DORS can be a funding source for specialized assistive technology to help students succeed in college; can foster independence by funding adjustment to blindness training; and can provide guidance and support for seeking employment. A DORS consumer, with the assistance of his counselor, develops an individualized plan for employment which lists the services that a consumer will need in order to reach his employment goal. Remember: Federal law specifies that consumers have a right to choose which service providers they would like to use, but decisions must be approved by DORS. For further information, visit the NFBMD resource page. What is adjustment to blindness training? Adjustment to blindness training provides an opportunity for blind individuals to build self-confidence and learn essential skills for independence. To become a successful, well-rounded scholar, you will need a complete set of tools in your toolbox. These tools (skills), along with a can-do attitude, will ensure that you can approach life in college and beyond with confidence, dignity, and enjoyment. Participating in an adjustment to blindness program will prepare you to live the life you want. Each training center listed below offers Braille, technology, cane travel, and independent living instruction (cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping). Additionally, each program places a large emphasis on confidence-building activities, which may include rock climbing, white water rafting, industrial arts, and martial arts. Students can obtain adjustment to blindness training from one of three training centers operated by the National Federation of the Blind:

For students who would like to remain in Maryland, Blind Industries and Services of Maryland also offers an excellent adjustment to blindness training program.

Self-Advocacy

The most successful students in higher education are those who can advocate for themselves. While the disability support services office on campus may be helpful, students must know their rights and be informed. The National Federation of the Blind has created toolkits to help students with this process. The self-advocacy tool kit explains how to get accommodations in everything from accessible technology to the necessary supports to be successful in internships.

Go to https://nfb.org/self-advocacy-higher-education

The National Federation of the Blind has also created a special self-advocacy toolkit for high-stakes testing. These tests include everything from SAT’s and the ACT to the Graduate Record Exams and special professional licensing exams. As this toolkit explains, students must start working on accommodations for testing early. Go to https://nfb.org/high-stakes-testing-self-advocacy-toolkit

Accessibility

The National Federation of the Blind has created an online resource center to help both college administrators and students to foster an institution that is truly accessible. Accessibility barriers are not just physical barriers. Accessibility must also include digital technologies, as well as policies and procedures for the maintenance of these accessible technologies. For further information go to https://nfb.org/higher-education-accessibility-online-resource-center

Sources of Accessible Textbooks

Bookshare’s® searchable online library has an extensive collection of accessible books for school work, pleasure reading, preparing for exams, applying for jobs, applying for college, and many other topics. The library is fully searchable; it’s easy to find books by title, author, topic, or other search criteria. Free memberships are available for all U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities, including K-12 students, students in transition, college students, graduate students, and adult students enrolled in continuing education programs. For further information, visit https://www.bookshare.org/. Learning Ally has a very large library of audio textbooks. Students should check with their college to make sure that the college belongs to this important program. A student may also wish to become a member himself because the benefits include professional books used in varied careers. For further information, visit https://www.learningally.org/ To increase efficiency in higher education textbook distribution, the Maryland General Assembly charged the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped with the responsibility of coordination. Rather than each college asking a publisher for electronic files of a book, the Library for the Blind coordinates requests to publishers. Individual students may also contact the Library directly to obtain electronic files of their books. Contact the Library at 410-230-2424, or 1-800-964-9209. How can I get more information about MDABS? Connect with MDABS Twitter: @MDABS Facebook group: Maryland Association of Blind Students MDABS Email List Serve: http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/mdabs_nfbnet.org NABS Email list serve: http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nabs-l_nfbnet.org