Gilbert resident among 60 finalists in Braille Challenge

Posted: Monday, May 4, 2015 | East Valley Tribune

Emily Bowe of Gilbert is a finalist, and one of three from Arizona, in the 15th annual Braille Challenge, the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired.

The top-scoring 60 finalists, ages 6 to 19, will gather June 20 for a daylong academic competition, camaraderie and fun at Braille Institute in Los Angeles.
Using a device called a Perkins Brailler, #BrailleChallenge finalists will embark on the daylong competition to showcase their skills in five categories: reading comprehension, spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and speed and accuracy. Following the competition, winners will be announced at an awards ceremony highlighted by musical performances and celebrity attendees honoring the incredible achievements of the 60 finalists.

“Braille is a crucial tool that opens the doors of literacy and drives educational advancement and future employment opportunities,” said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute. “We continue to be inspired each year by the passion and commitment of the students who compete in The Braille Challenge. Their achievements can empower others who are affected by sight loss to develop their braille skills as well.”

Sponsored by Braille Institute (, The Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate students and emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging events. This year, regional Braille Challenge events were held at 46 different sites in the U.S. and Canada from January through March. Collectively, more than 1,100 students participated in the regional events.

“This challenge has influenced so many families who have a child or children who are blind or visually impaired. For many participants, this is their only opportunity to truly test their skills against others academically,” said Nancy Niebrugge, associate vice president of National Programs at Braille Institute.

Of all the literacy issues in America, braille literacy is one of the most underrated and overlooked, and advancements in technology have not replaced the need for children who are blind or visually impaired to learn to read using this vital medium. Understanding how essential braille literacy is for success in the sighted world, Braille Institute developed the two-phase, annual competition as a way to encourage children who are blind and visually impaired to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments.