MUSKOGEE, Okla. –Students from across the state will convene at Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee for the Oklahoma Regional Braille Challenge® competition on March 2.
Thirty-two Braille-readers are pre-registered for the contest, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the OSB campus at 3300 Gibson Street. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
Braille Challenge® is a national program of the Braille Institute of America in Los Angeles.
OSB is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
“Braille Challenge is the only national Braille literacy competition of its kind in the country,” Faye Miller, competition co-coordinator and OSB teacher, said. “This contest is specifically designed to challenge and reward students for their study of Braille, which is essential to their future academic and employment success.”
Oklahoma competitors who score among the top 60 nationally will be invited to a national Braille Challenge® competition in Los Angeles in June.
In 2015, Richelle Zampella, who is an OSB student from Muskogee, advanced from the regional Braille Challenge® in Muskogee to win first place in the United States and Canada in the junior varsity category. Zampella and her sister Katelynn have competed at the national level in other years.
Sherry Holder, competition co-coordinator and OSB outreach coordinator, invites all Braille readers with visual impairments to participate in the preliminary competition at OSB.
“Similar events are held January through the end of March throughout the U.S. and Canada,” Holder explained.
Participants in first through 12th grades compete in five contest categories: apprentice, freshman, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity.
Each category is designed to test braille skills in several areas—reading comprehension, braille speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs.
Contests are proctored by teachers for visually impaired students and scored locally by volunteer transcribers according to the Braille Institute’s national guidelines.
Contestants will receive Brailled certificates of appreciation, commemorative t-shirts and gift bags with donated prizes from local and national sponsors. Feedback on each contestant’s performance will be sent to families and educators in May.
Braille is internationally recognized as the foundation of literacy when students’ visual impairments prevent efficient use of print. It enables them to learn and practice spelling, punctuation, composition styles, and research and study skills.
Approximately 18,000 Oklahomans are legally blind and 113,600 have visual disabilities, according to Cornell University’s 2012 Disability Status Report.
Cornell University research indicates that 39.9 percent of Oklahomans with visual disabilities, ages 21 to 64, are employed, while the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped reports that nationally 90 percent of blind jobseekers who beat the employment odds are braille readers.
For more information about Braille Challenge®, contact Sherry Holder, firstname.lastname@example.org at 918-781-8200, ext. 8266.
The Oklahoma School for the Blind is the statewide resource for the education of blind and visually impaired students. Residential and commuter students meet all state-mandated education requirements and receive specialized instruction in Braille, orientation and mobility, optimum use of low vision, adaptive equipment technology and tactile graphic skills not readily available at other public schools in the state. The school has maintained 100 percent graduation rate for five years. OSB also provides hundreds of hours of free evaluations and other direct services