Kansas students ready to show off Braille skills at national event

Kansas has more representatives than any other state

kmbc.com | Jun 17, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan.— Five students from the Kansas City metropolitan area will compete in a national challenge to show off their skills in Braille.

Brooke Petro, a second­grade student at the Kansas State School for the Blind, will take part in a series of tests in Los Angeles to demonstrate their proficiency in the language.

“I started at age 2, so I have six years of experience,” she said.

“If I couldn’t read Braille, I couldn’t read very much at all,” said fifth­grade student Audrey Bethay.

Ashlee Thao will compete in the national event for the fourth time. Her intense focus shows she’s one to beat this time around.

“I still haven’t gotten first place yet, which is kind of the reason why I’m so serious about this,” she said.

Sixty students from across the country and Canada will battle in the Braille competition. Kansas has five of those 60 students, more than any other state.

Organizers said Braille not only helps these students now, but will also help them in the future when they look for jobs.

“Adults who are good Braille readers are much more employable than the ones who have grown up just relying on speech,” said Kansas State School for the Blind teacher Helen Hahn.

Audrey said there are other things that make the language so special.

“I can write about my brother and he doesn’t even know,” she said