Los Angeles — June 26, 2023 — Braille Institute proudly announced the winners of the 2023 Braille Challenge this past Saturday at the Finals Award Ceremony held at the University of Southern California campus.
Braille Challenge, in its 23rd year, is the only academic competition of its kind in North America and the U.K. for students who are blind or visually impaired. The top 51 students were invited to Braille Challenge Finals from the more than 800 students who participated in one of 57 regional competitions.
Braille Institute developed the Braille Challenge to promote the importance of braille literacy. It motivates students to practice and hone their braille literacy skills, which are essential to academic and employment success. According to the National Federation for the Blind study in 2016, only 32% of those with a visual disability attain a high school diploma or GED, and less than 16% of adults attain a bachelor’s degree or higher.
“Knowing braille gives those who are visually impaired a gateway to independence,” said Jim (Dimitri) Kales, CEO, Braille Institute. “We celebrate and recognize the importance of braille reading and writing. These students are all winners and such an inspiration to us all.”
Contestants competed at five levels (Apprentice through Varsity) in five different categories of braille literacy, including reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and tactile charts and graphs.
The 2023 Braille Challenge Winners are:
Apprentice: Luise Schmidt-Eisenlohr – Arlington, VA
Freshman: Anne Ye – Brooklyn, NY
Sophomore: Leo De Santis – Austin, TX
Junior Varsity: Christopher Morgan – Douglasville, GA
Varsity: Brooke Petro – Leawood, KS
Apprentice: Adalyn Kumm – Wausa, NE
Freshman: Hao Wen Deng – Flushing, NY
Sophomore: Salome Cummins – Wentzville, MO
Junior Varsity: EmmaGrace Olech – San Antonio, TX
Varsity: Madeline Mau – Princeton Junction, NJ
Apprentice: Tianna Tollefson – University Place, WA
Freshman: Matthew Heesen – Janesville, WI
Sophomore: Janna Cheung – Toronto, ON, CAN
Junior Varsity: Braeden Robinson – Simpsonville, KY
Varsity: Nathan Deeds – Willamsburg, IA
TEACHER OF THE YEAR: April Makley, Kent Intermediate School District – Grand Rapids, MI.
EXCELLENCE IN SPELLING: Anne Ye – Brooklyn, NY
EXCELLENCE IN READING COMPETITION: Anne Ye – Brooklyn, NY
HARLEY FETTERMAN AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHARTS AND GRAPHS: Leo De Santis – Austin, TX