Disappointment, description, collection and urge were some of the words that were brailled out by students competing in the National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles this past June. Our very own STARS student, Kendra Holloway, was one of 12 children in her freshman division that competed for the grand prize of an iPad, Focus Forty Blue Braille Display device and $1,000. Even though she was nervous Kendra relaxed and focused on brailing out her words; winning first place. “I competed in the challenge because braille is very important to me, said Kendra. “I love to read and write and braille allows me to do that.”
The challenge is much more than a typical spelling bee. Each student is rated not only on their ability to spell words but on proofreading and reading comprehension. In the competition, 60 of the top blind and visually impaired students from the United States and Canada test their braille skills using the Perkins Brailler to type, analyze and decode the braille. According to the Braille Institute, “the purpose of the competition is to promote braille literacy for blind children, because a blind child that cannot read braille is just as illiterate as a sighted person who cannot read print.” Kendra agrees. “While sighted people are reading print, I can read the same thing in braille,” she said. “I have to read braille in order to finish school and get a job.”
Kendra has competed in the braille challenge before; winning first place in 2011. She has also been competing in the regional challenges at the Georgia Academy for the Blind since she first started learning braille. ”I was first exposed to braille when I was in the BEGIN program, said Kendra, who is now in the 5th grade. “I plan on competing in the challenge again next year.”
Kendra is truly an excellent example of a braille reader. Not only has she won this national challenge but won an accelerated reading award and was placed on the honor roll at her school. We at CVI are proud of Kendra’s accomplishments and looking forward to her competing again next year. Congratulations Kendra for a job well done and showing the importance of braille literacy!