Grand Rapids, Michigan Teacher Honored for Excellence In Braille Instruction

Los Angeles – May 23, 2023 — Braille Institute has named April Makley as its 2023 “Teacher of the Year” for excellence in braille instruction. The award is part of Braille Institute’s annual Braille Challenge competition, the only academic competition of its kind in North America and the U.K. for students who are blind or visually impaired. Makley will be recognized at Braille Challenge Finals which will be held June 24 on the USC campus.

Makley has been a Teacher Consultant of the Visually Impaired (TCVI) for more than 20 years. She works with students across all grade levels who have visual impairments. “It is an honor and privilege to work with April who demonstrates an exceptional commitment to her students and families,” said Elizabeth Svanda, a colleague and fellow TCVI at Kent Intermediate Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan and who was recruited into the field by Makley.

Makley works with students teaching braille from infant preliteracy through college level classes. “My passion is working with children and teaching them the skills they need to thrive”. In 2008 she was recognized as Teacher of the Year by Michigan Parents of the Visually Impaired, highlighting her outstanding contributions to the field. And recently, her school district honored her with the “Leading Learning” award.

“April epitomizes excellence and dedication,” said Jim (Dimitri) Kales, CEO, Braille Institute. “She goes beyond the classroom and works with the entire family to ensure her students master braille. April’s students thrive under her expertise and guidance. In fact, it was one of her high school students, who was accepted to Harvard, that nominated her for this award.”

TCVIs make an indelible contribution on students who are blind or have severe vision loss. They have a unique and special relationship with their students, teaching life skills in addition to academics. “I want to thank Braille Institute for this honor, and it is a privilege to be recognized for something I love doing,” said Makley.
In 2018, 63,501 students met the definition of blindness, while only 5,011 (7.9 percent) of them were primary braille readers according to the nonprofit American Printing House for the Blind. Braille literacy plays an important role in an individual’s long-term future and professional opportunities. In fact, an article by Braille Works states, 90% of employed people with blindness can read and write braille.”