National Braille Challenge Competition Comes to Los Angeles

Jun 23, 2011, 14:47 ET from Braille Institute of America

Nation's Top Blind Students To Compete In Unique Academic Competition

LOS ANGELES, June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Saturday, June 25, the top blind students from across the United States and Canada will meet in Los Angeles to put their knowledge of the braille code to the test in the only national academic competition for blind students in the country—The National Braille Challenge®. This year marks the 11th anniversary of this groundbreaking event.


Sponsored by Braille Institute of America®, the competition serves to encourage blind children of all ages to fine-tune their braille skills, which are essential to their success in the sighted world. The 11th Annual National Braille Challenge® will take place on Saturday, June 25, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Braille Institute's headquarters, located at 741 North Vermont Avenue, in Los Angeles. The participants, ages 6 to 19, will compete in challenging categories requiring them to transcribe, type and read braille using a device called a Perkins Brailler. This year's competition will feature a diverse group of high achievers from across the country. Most were born blind, others lost their sight due to cancer or viral infections, but they all share a tenacity that drives them to succeed in spite of their disability. They were chosen from among nearly 900 students during the preliminary round at Regional Braille Challenge events across the country.

"This competition is unique in that it tests a very specific skill. The great thing about The Braille Challenge®, is that it gives us the opportunity to celebrate braille literacy and bring this issue to the attention of the public," said Nancy Niebrugge, director of The Braille Challenge. "Most of the participants who make it to the national competition are the only blind students in their school. They go through their entire lives being the exception. This competition gives them the opportunity to build camaraderie among kids who have shared similar life experiences."

Each category of The National Braille Challenge® is designed to test braille skills in several areas—reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy—all of which blind students need to master in order to keep up with their sighted peers. The first- through third-place winners in each age group will receive a savings bond, ranging in value from $500 for the youngest group to $5,000 for the oldest. In addition to these prizes, Freedom Scientific corporation has donated the latest adaptive equipment for the winners—a pocket PC with a braille display called a PacMate.

This year's National Braille Challenge also will honor the winners of the 2nd Annual Cinema Without Sight competition, which aims to give blind children the opportunity to work in the visual medium of film. Each entrant was charged with creating a short film or video with the theme "If Blind Kids Ruled the World." The 2011 winners were a group of students from St. Lucy's Day School for Children with Visual Impairments, in Pennsylvania, whose music video will be premiered at the event. "We cannot afford to let braille disappear. In 200 years from now, hopefully blind children and adults will still have this form of literacy to connect them to the sighted world," said Niebrugge. If you would like additional information on The Braille Challenge® or any of the finalists or winners please contact Courtney Kassel, director of Marketing and Public Relations, at (323) 663-1111, Ext. 3176.

The Braille Challenge 2011 is being made possible in part by the generosity of the following donors: Presenting Sponsor for The Braille Challenge is the Braille Institute Auxiliary. Major Prize Sponsor: Freedom Scientific. Major support provided by Carl and Jeannette Goldbaum-Awards Banquet Sponsor, Walter Lantz Foundation-Savings Bonds, Dot and Rick Nelson, Ceremony & Teacher of the Year Sponsor, Franklin D. & Phyllis M. Halladay-Challenge Breakfast/Lunch Sponsor, Anonymous-Welcome Dinner Sponsor.  Additional support provided by The Dockweiler Foundation in Memory of Marcus E. Crahan Jr., Delta Gamma Foundation, City National Bank, Randy Brown, Mary Burson, Homer Ralles, Dowrene Hahn, Los Angeles Breakfast Club Foundation, Mary Jo & Gerald Brown in Memory of Katherine M. Krupa, Florencine Gerard, Palmer Langdon and Philip P. Woodward.  

SOURCE Braille Institute of America