NFB SABER Year Two Evaluation Report

April 20th, 2020 | EVALUATION

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), in partnership with scholars from Utah State University and educators from the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), has developed the Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research (SABER) project to assess and improve the spatial ability of blind teens in order to broaden their participation in STEM fields.  The goals of the project include:

  1. Contribute to the knowledge base of effective practices regarding informal STEM education for the blind, particularly relating to the development of spatial reasoning abilities.
  2. Educate families, blind youth, and museum personnel about the techniques, tools, and instructional practices rooted in problem solving to effectively develop spatial ability skills in blind youth in informal STEM-learning settings.
  3. Incorporate promising techniques, tools, and instructional practices from the developed interventions into ongoing programming for both blind and sighted learners.

In June 2019, 30 teens who had just completed 9th to 12th grade arrived at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland to attend the 2019 NFB EQ Summer Program. As with the previous year, this second year of the NFB EQ summer program was primarily composed of two types of sessions: 1) instruction, and 2) building, in an intense STEM-based program where each individual teen participant designed and created a PMO (Place of My Own) personal retreat space model building.  Teens developed a portfolio that included graphic artifacts (front elevation, side elevation, structural column-beam plan, floor plan), narrative artifacts (final design brief, self-reflection), algorithmic artifacts (load calculations, column justification, rafter justification, truss analysis), and a scale model. A third type of session involved several blind engineers sharing their successes and challenges of navigating various engineering fields. The program also included a field trip to the nearby Jerusalem Mill and Village.

The Lifelong Learning Group (LLG), now the Center for Research and Evaluation (CRE), at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio conducted an evaluation of the NFB EQ program during the first year of implementation. This second year evaluation focused on perceptions of process and measures of efficacy around key themes including drawing and drafting, measurement, and building and construction.



Team Members

Joe E Heimlich, Evaluator, Center for Research and Evaluation/COSI
Gary Timko, Evaluator, Center for Research and Evaluation/COSI


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1712887

Related URLs

Spatial Ability and Blind Engineering Research


Access and Inclusion: People with Disabilities
Audience: Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Engineering | Technology
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Formative | Interview Protocol | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Survey
Environment Type: Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps