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Students Test Their Skills At Ohio Braille Challenge

A student sitting at a brailler with a test proctor watching.
Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired
A student competes in the first Ohio Regional Braille Challenge in 2017.

Blind and visually impaired students from around Ohio are in Cincinnati Friday competing to see how well they know braille.

Jacqueline Conner coordinates the Ohio Braille Challenge, now in its second year.

"They test on a variety of things, reading comprehension, speed, proofreading," she says.

There's also chart and graph reading, braille spelling, and accuracy. However, the contest is about more than just competing.

"Braille literacy is so important. It's a unique skill that's required for their reading and writing, their future. It'd be like... what if you couldn't read Nancy Drew? People are into braille. They need to be into braille."

Room full of students with hands raised.
Credit Provided / Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Students take the Braille Challenge oath during opening ceremonies for the 2017 competition.

More than 30 students from kindergarten through 12th grade are in the competition. They can earn cash and prizes, and everyone gets a braille-embossed book about Fiona the hippo.

The top prize is a chance to compete at the Braille Institute Braille Challenge Finals in Los Angeles on June 16. Ohio sent two competitors last year.

"Part of our goal," says Conner, "is to create a network for parents and teachers, people who are working with kids with vision loss, to let them know that braille literacy is important for school success, for employment success... even those kids who may not be totally blind."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.