Nation's top blind students come to Los Angeles to compete in unique academic competition

On Saturday, June 22, 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®. 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.

NBC4 Southern California is proud to sponsor the NBC4 Braille Superstar Award for Excellence in Reading Comprehension, awarding a $1,500 scholarship to the student who scores the highest in the Reading Comprehension category of the competition. Long-time NBC4 General Assignment Reporter Patrick Healy will be on-hand to present the scholarship award.

The 13th Annual National Braille Challenge® competition will feature a diverse group of high achievers. 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 challenges. They were chosen from among more than 1000 blind students—representing 39 states and three Canadian provinces—during the preliminary round at Regional Braille Challenge events held across the country. The participants, ages 6 to 19, will compete in challenging categories requiring them to transcribe, type and read braille at a furious pace using a device called a Perkins Brailler.

Each category of The National Braille Challenge® is designed to test participants’ 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.

“This competition is unique in that it tests a very specific skill. It gives us the opportunity to bring the issue of literacy for blind children 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. The Braille Challenge® gives them the opportunity to build camaraderie among kids who have shared similar life experiences.”

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