The Foundation has established its Technology Grant Program in order to enable blind and visually-impaired children to obtain technology for use at home that is comparable to the technology available to them at school.
Under current federal law, school districts are required to provide blind and visually-impaired schoolchildren with “free and appropriate”education, taking into account their disabilities. This means that school systems are required to provide blind or visually impaired children with adaptive technology to enable them to use the same educational materials as their classmates.
Nebraska school systems have risen to this challenge. Blind and visually impaired children employ technology such as braille writers, iPads, closed circuit television magnifiers, computer screen-reading software and braille notetakers on a daily basis in Nebraska classrooms.
But too often, the use of technology ends when the student walks out the schoolhouse door. Parents often lack the resources or knowledge to obtain suitable technology for their children to use at home. As a result, at-home learning opportunities can be limited, and these children face unnecessary obstacles to obtain the education they need to succeed in life.
Our technology grant program is designed to close the gap between the technology available at home and the technology available at school. We provide blind or visually impaired Nebraska students, free of charge or at minimal cost, with in-home technology like the technology that they use in school. During the last few years, we have provided a wide range of technology to students including:
Each of these technology grants enabled a student to pair or supplement technology available at school with technology in the home.
Although the primary focus of our technology grant program is addressing the mismatch between technology available in the school and that available at home, we are open to any grants of technology to blind or visually impaired Nebraska children that will assist in the intellectual, emotional or social development of those children. If you have questions about whether a particular type of technology would be eligible for the program, please contact us.
Any blind or visually impaired Nebraska child between the ages of five and 18 is eligible to participate in the program. In the case of older students, we may consider whether the technology request is more appropriately referred to and handled by another organization, such as The Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCBVI).
You can apply for a technology grant by completing our technology request form, and submitting it to us by mail or e-mail. The application requires the submission of certain supplementary materials, such as vision and technology assessments and supporting letters from the student, parents and teachers. Input from teachers is especially important in allowing us to devise the best technology solution for a particular student. If you have any questions about the application form or the supplementary materials required, please contact us.
During 2014, the Foundation made nearly $20,000 of technology grants of to 19 Nebraska students from all areas of the state. These grants included grants for computers, computer software, video equipment, and iPads. For an update on the Foundation’s technology grants during 2015, check our Blog.