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PDRIB director works with National Federation of the Blind on upcoming conference

Dec 4, 2020 | Education, Innovation

As the old adage goes, give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a life. The National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Dare to Be Remarkable Conference has that adage as its goal.

Organized by members of the NFB and Dr. Edward Bell, director of Louisiana Tech’s Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness in the College of Education, the Dec. 15-17 conference seeks to educate individuals in Structured Discovery Training, a model for how education and rehabilitation should be done that is based on the lived experiences of blind adults.

“Traditional or conventional rehab took a very medically based model where blind or visually impaired persons were viewed as fragile, vulnerable, unaware of the world and needed to be protected,” Bell said. “Those who founded the NFB did not subscribe to this custodial approach and believed instead that blind adults had the legal right, the mental and physical ability, and moral obligation to forge their own path in life.”

One of the oldest slogans of the NFB was “Given proper training and opportunity, the average blind person can do the average job as well or better than his/her counterpart.” However, the new slogan of the NFB is “Live the life you want with hope and determination.”

“Our hope is that these messages resonate with the participants and they begin to adopt a more empowering view of rehab and education,” Bell said.

While the conference will address Structured Discovery Training in Education, Bell himself will also discuss how SDT works from an adult perspective, using the Louisiana Center for the Blind in downtown Ruston as an example. The LCB, Bell said, is a cornerstone for the SDT model. The conference will wrap up discussing employment and job opportunities for blind individuals.

“Remarkable is the perfect word to describe the research and service provided by Dr. Bell and his colleagues at the PDRIB,” said Dr. Don Schillinger, dean of the COE. “Whether it’s leading a national conference, conducting research to advance education, or developing and integrating research-based methods into courses on orientation and mobility, the staff of PDRIB is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of the blind or visually impaired.”

The conference will be conducted via Zoom, and more information can be found https://www.nfb.org/programs-services/education/dare-be-remarkable/.