Highly-Qualified Teachers Pass the National Certification in Literary Braille (NCLB)

Scantron with pencil

My kids just started back to school, and for the past few days, I keep hearing from the school about how so many of their teachers are “National Board Certified.” The certification process isn’t mandated, it’s time-consuming for the teachers, yet many of them paid out of pocket for test prep and exam fees. In so many ways, this National Board Certification is just like the National Certification in Literary Braille (NCLB).

The NCLB, formerly known as the National Literary Braille Competency Test (NLBCT), tests your ability to read, write, and proofread literary braille.

Fall is a great time to consider taking the NCLB exam! Tests are already scheduled in Omaha, Nebraska; Ruston, Louisiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Sacramento, California; and Romney, West Virginia. If one of these locations won’t work for you, we will work to get something scheduled in your area.

With the deadline for some of these exams just a week away, I’d like to take this opportunity to correct some misunderstandings about the test and urge you, as teachers of blind students, to take the test for your personal professional development.

Beyond a diploma, certification adds credibility

Most teachers of blind students studied braille in graduate school. However, there is little consistency between teacher-prep programs around the country. While some programs do an excellent job with preparing teachers to use braille, others do not teach the slate and stylus, others do not expect their graduates to be fluent in the code upon graduation, and others only use software like Perky Duck as a demonstration that teachers could transcribe future students’ assignments.

The conference of a degree from a university in the area of teaching blind students demonstrates that you have met the graduation requirements for that program. By adding the designation of NCLB certification administered by a nationally recognized credentialing organization, you will unequivocally demonstrate that you have the ability to meet a benchmark standard of competency and that you possess knowledge and skill in the use of the braille code beyond the rudimentary level.

The exam is designed for teachers.

The NCLB exam is focused upon the skills and knowledge that professional teachers will expect from their students learning literary braille. Unlike the better-known exam taken by professional transcribers affiliated with the National Library Service, the NCLB only requires a basic understanding about formatting (such as page layout, margins, and spacing when using various forms of punctuation).

The test may not be required, but it will advance your career.

We are beginning to hear from local education and rehabilitation agencies around the country who want a list of certified individuals in their states. Before spending money on instruction, these groups want to know that the teachers truly know the code, and they’ve found the NCLB to be a reliable metric. Some states say that if you can show that you know braille, then they can hire you to teach as an independent contractor. For school teachers looking for summer jobs, the NCLB designation may be your ticket!

The NCLB also demonstrates your leadership in the field of blindness. The designation shows that, just like National Board Certified teachers, you have invested in your professional development and recognize the value of advanced volunteer certification.

More information about the NCLB test is available on the NBPCB web site.

Image courtesy of The Academic Village
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Casey West Robertson, M.Ed., NCLB

Casey West Robertson, M.Ed., NCLB

Casey was named as the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children in 2012 in part for her constant advocacy that blind children learn braille in a positive environment. In addition to serving as an independent contractor with four school districts in Mississippi, Casey is an active researcher and instructor at Louisiana Tech University.

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