Students compete in 2016 Braille Challenge

Jan 14, 2016 | | For the Cumberland Times-News

ROMNEY, W.Va. — Local students competed in a regional event of the 2016 Braille Challenge on Thursday at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. The challenge, sponsored by Braille Institute, is the only national reading and writing contest in braille for legally blind students.

The annual two-stage academic competition is designed to motivate students by emphasizing their study of braille while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging local and national events. Any student who is blind or visually impaired and reads braille is eligible to participate in preliminary or regional events held from January through mid-March throughout the U.S. and Canada.

In its 16th year, the challenge offers students a chance to compete in five categories: reading comprehension, braille spelling, charts and graphs reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy.

“The Braille Challenge parallels the importance and educational purpose of an academic decathlon or spelling bee for sighted children,” said Nancy Niebrugge, associate vice president of organizational strategy at Braille Institute. “While there are upwards of 55,000 legally blind children in the U.S., only a portion use braille to read. Reading braille is paramount to literacy for students. Educators working with students who are blind or visually impaired have told us that the Braille Challenge is a motivating factor encouraging students to practice braille.”

Following the regional phase, contestants with the highest scores are invited to compete in the national finals phase at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Braille Institute..