Celebrate National Poetry Month with the Braille Bug

American Foundation for the Blind Launches Online Reading Club and Sponsors Poetry Contest

For Immediate Release
April 3, 2002

New York, NY—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the leading national resource on literacy, employment, independent living, and technology for people who are blind or visually impaired, today announced the launch of an online Reading Club, a new addition to AFB's Braille Bug children's web channel for promoting literacy (www.afb.org/braillebug). The Reading Club, designed for children in grades 2-6, features books that sighted and visually impaired children around the country can discuss on kid-friendly supervised message boards that are fully accessible to people with disabilities.

In celebration of National Poetry Month in April, the first book to be featured in the Reading Club is Falling Up, a collection of children's poems and drawings by award-winning author Shel Silverstein. Budding child poets who visit the Braille Bug site are encouraged to submit their own original poems about braille or the Braille Bug itself. All children who participate will receive a gift from AFB, and five winning poems—one from each grade—will be selected and posted on the Braille Bug web site in May. An accessible entry form is available on the site but children can also submit their entries by mail.

"The Braille Bug site was created to promote literacy for all, one of the top priorities of the American Foundation for the Blind," said Frances Mary D'Andrea, director of AFB's National Literacy Center in Atlanta. "The Reading Club is a fun way to encourage reading, and since all the books featured on the site will be available in print and braille—or web-braille, through the Library of Congress—visually impaired and sighted children can discuss the same books, reinforcing the idea for sighted kids that visually impaired children are more like them than different. This can only help foster a better understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities."

The Braille Bug is the first children's site that combines full accessibility with sophisticated functionality and a playful environment that features colorful animated graphics and sound effects. Also in conjunction with National Poetry Month, new rhyming riddles appear in the Braille Bug site's Games section.

The American Foundation for the Blind—the organization to which Helen Keller devoted her life—is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate the inequities faced by the ten million Americans who are blind or visually impaired. Headquartered in New York City, AFB maintains offices in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, a National Literacy Center in Atlanta, a governmental relations office in Washington, DC, and a Technology and Employment Center in Huntington, WV. Visit us at www.afb.org.

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To request more information or an interview, contact:

AFB
Michael Sylvie
(212) 502-7675
michael@afb.net

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