Florida Center for the Blind gets help starting new preschool to help blind children

Braille text on old book.

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Posted March 23, 2022 | By Ocala Gazette Staff

The Florida Center for the Blind will be receiving a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of up to $600,000 to purchase adjacent property for the purpose of establishing a preschool that provides intensive early-learning experiences for blind and visually impaired children.

The property consists of two parcels located at 2211 NE 14th Street.

The CDBG is a federal initiative that helps local communities fund specific solutions targeted at helping low- and moderate-income persons in the community. The Marion County Board of County Commissioners, who oversee that fund locally, unanimously approved the grant at their March 15 meeting.

Florida Center for the Blind serves people of all ages at no cost who are vision-impaired in both eyes, and cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery resulting in difficulties performing daily activities. This new school would help children learn braille from pre-k through second grade.

Anissa Pierboni, President and CEO of the Florida Center for the Blind, told the commission during the meeting that this early education intervention would help the visually impaired mainstream into local public schools quicker.

“We have to pull our students out of class to teach them skills they really should have before they start school, things like how to read braille, navigate safely, and use assisted technology,” said Pierboni said.

According to a press release issued by Marion County following the award, proposals for CDBG may be submitted to the county for consideration “year-round to meet identified goals, emerging needs, and expenditure deadlines. Proposals will be evaluated on the project addressing county goals, priority needs, and national objectives.”  The pre-application should submitted online via ZoomGrants at:zoomgrants.com/zgf/Marion_County_Community_Services/Community_Development

Learn more about the Florida Center for the Blind at www.flblind.org.