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TCNJ recognizes October as Blindness Awareness Month

EWING, NJ … The College of New Jersey will be taking part in Blindness Awareness Month (BAM) in October 2012 by hosting a series of events on campus. Blindness Awareness Month was launched in New Jersey in 2009 by The Little Rock Foundation, headquartered in Voorhees, at the request of its ambassador, Rocco Fiorentino, 15, who is totally blind. It has grown to include 44 states and TCNJ is proud to have a unique collaboration with The Little Rock Foundation this year to help educate the campus and local community about blindness.

 “When The Little Rock Foundation approached us to provide a context for the celebration of Blindness Awareness Month in October, I was enthusiastic, but I never imagined that this event would receive the degree of enthusiasm and support that it has from the TCNJ student organizations,” said Jerry Petroff, associate professor of special education, language and literacy, and executive director for TCNJ’s Center for Sensory & Complex Disabilities. “With our partners, the Bonner Center and Little Rock Foundation, we were able to schedule an event each week during the month of October, with each event reflecting a celebration of the gifts and abilities of those who are blind or visually impaired, raising awareness to the fact that the only thing blind people don’t do is see.” 

The most notable appearance will come on Thursday, October 11, from 6-8 PM when jazz singer, pianist, songwriter, and award-winning humanitarian Rocco Fiorentino, performs at The Rathskeller, located in the Brower Student Center.

Rocco’s talent is becoming well known all over the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and the country.  In addition to numerous awards and accolades, Rocco, has performed before celebrities (Dr. Oz last spring, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, to name a few), he appears on “Sesame Street,” and he has received such honors as the Helen Keller Award in June of this year and was one of the Top Ten Youth Volunteers in America in 2011.

On Thursday, October 18, there will be a public viewing of the movie “Blindness.” This event will be held from 6-8 PM in the Education Building, room 212.

“Blindness,” which was released in 2008 and stars Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, is based on the Jose Saramago novel of the same name. The movie is about what happens when a society experiences a sudden epidemic of blindness.

Both the novel and movie have been controversial and have received mixed reviews. Disability advocates including those who are blindness advocates have been highly critical of the story’s premise. The viewing of this movie is expected to provide stimulating and thought provoking discussion among all who participate.

The last event in this series will be held on Thursday, October 25. Don McGowen of Seeing Eye, Inc. will discuss guide dogs for individuals who are blind. This event will be held from 6-8 PM in the Education Building, room 212.

There will also be an event in the beginning of the month as Vision Awareness Day with Freedom Scientific Logo takes place in Ewing Township on Wednesday, October 3.

From 10 AM-1 PM, TCNJ will host an event, sponsored by SW Unlimited, where participants can learn about technology solutions for the blind. This event will take place in Room 309 of the Education Building.

The systems being described will include: JAWS® screen reading software, the PAC Mate™ accessible Pocket PC, Braille displays, scanning and reading, and more.

Those who which to register can do so in three different fashions:
By Phone: 1-800-336-5658
By e-mail:

Seating is limited, so early registration is encouraged. Continuing Education credits are available by request.

Freedom Scientific is the world’s leading manufacturer of assistive technology products for those who are vision impaired and products for the special education and learning disability market.

For information on Freedom Scientific visit


The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is a highly selective institution that has earned national recognition for its commitment to excellence. Founded in 1855, TCNJ has become an exemplar of the best in public higher education and is consistently acknowledged as one of the top comprehensive colleges in the nation. TCNJ currently is ranked as one of the 75 “Most Competitive” schools in the nation by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and is rated the No. 1 public institution in the northern region of the country by U.S. News & World Report. TCNJ is among the best values in public higher education according the Princeton Review’s 2012 list and, in 2006, was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter—an honor shared by less than 10 percent of colleges and universities nationally.

Emily Dodd,, 609.771.3066


The Little Rock Foundation (TLRF) was created to support families with children who are blind or visually impaired. Formed in 1997, one year after the birth of their son, Rocco, Tina and Rocco Fiorentino launched the foundation so other families wouldn’t be at a loss for resources like they were when Rocco was born four months premature. Rocco, now 15, is totally blind due to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and the award-winning ambassador of the Little Rock Foundation, responsible for $1.2 million being dedicated to Braille services in New Jersey and for launching the national Blindness Awareness Month each October. The Little Rock Foundation has two Little Rock Family Resource Centers established in Philadelphia – one at Wills Eye Hospital and the other at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – where resources for deaf and hearing-impaired are also available; Camp Little Rock, and many outreach programs for youth including “Cooking Without Looking.” More information is available at or by calling toll-free 877.220.2500. For additional information about Blindness Awareness Month, visit

Sharla Feldscher,, 215.285.4868