A young student practices using his brailler during the Braille Explorers session.

December 3, 2019

Students Across Ohio to Compete for Prizes, Chance to Attend National Competition in Los Angeles

Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, in collaboration with the Braille Institute of America, announced it will host the Ohio Regional Braille Challenge on Thursday, February 27, 2020. The 2020 Ohio Regional Challenge theme is Braille Rocketeers – Lifting Off to Braille Literacy.

The Braille Challenge, now in its 19th year, is the only national reading and writing competition in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired. Regionals are open to students of all abilities, giving even emerging braille readers a chance to reach a personal best score. Students in grades 1-12 from all over Ohio will gather at Clovernook Center, near Cincinnati in North College Hill, to test their braille skills in five categories: reading, comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy. Student contests are organized by grade level. All test formats are Unified English Braille (UEB).

Clovernook Center is adding more activities for children ages four through kindergarten in the Braille Explorers category for children who are not yet ready for competition, but are interested in preparing for competition-level braille reading and writing in the future. Braille Explorers use modified challenge activities in reading and writing to compete against other emerging braille users.

“Being literate in braille is vitally important to the quality of life and future success of children who are blind and visually impaired,” said Clovernook Center President and CEO Chris Faust. “The Ohio Regional Braille Challenge is one way we are encouraging children to develop the same important learning tools as sighted kids – reading, writing, comprehension, sentence structure and more. Without these skills, children who are blind and visually impaired are functionally illiterate and face significant challenges later in life.”

“Children who are able to fully acquire braille reading and writing skills have demonstrated better literacy, education and employment outcomes than those whose learning is primarily supported by new spoken-word technology,” Faust added.

“It’s clear that literacy is vital to a successful education, career and quality of life,” said Ohio Regional Braille Challenge Event Chair Kathy DeLaura. “That’s why it’s even more important now to raise awareness of the importance of braille literacy for Ohio students who are blind and visually impaired, and use events like the Ohio Regional Braille Challenge to continue to motivate them to become proficient in braille reading and writing skills.”

Immediately following the competition, winners from each age group are announced at an awards ceremony unparalleled with cash prizes, trophies, excitement, pride, and celebration.  But for those top academics, the Ohio Regional Competition is the first step to the coveted Braille Institute Braille Challenge Finals held in Los Angeles on June 26 and 27, 2020.

Two Ohio students who participated in the 2019 Ohio Regional Braille Challenge qualified for the 2019 Braille Institute Challenge Finals – MaKenzie Love and Philip Sotak. They took first and second place respectively in last year’s sophomore category. Love also took home the Clovernook Proofreading Prize for receiving the highest proofreading score in the competition. Fifty finalists from across the nation were selected based on their regional scores to compete at the national challenge.

To register and request a permission form visit our website at clovernook.org or contact Kathy DeLaura at kathy@pinchange.com or braillechallenge@clovernook.org, or call (513) 702-4878 and reference the Ohio Braille Challenge.

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