The Braille Challenge is the only national academic competition for blind or visually impaired students across the United States. This competition serves to encourage children, ages 6 and 19, to fine-tune their Braille reading skills--a skill that is essential to their success in the sighted world.
"Being visually impaired is not a picnic," said Merrilee Petersen from the Utah Foundation for the Blind. "But with a few adaptations and accommodations, life can be close to normal."
The competition included five categories designed to test Braille-reading skills. The categories included reading comprehension, Braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and Braille speed and accuracy.
"Literacy is just as important for visually impaired children," Petersen said. "It takes time to learn the Braille code and lots of practice. Our goal in having this event is to encourage children in their efforts at learning Braille code."
Beyond testing the students' skills and encouraging them to improve their Braille reading ability, the competition allows students to meet and spend time with other blind or visually impaired students.
"Visually impaired students, like any children, want to be the same as their peers," Petersen said. "We want to give them a social opportunity to be with other children who are just like they are."
During the competition "they can laugh together and enjoy the competition at the same time," Petersen said. "It's a lot of fun for all of us."
For more information about the event, visit www.ufbvi.org.