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Students ace braille challenge

[Left to right] Luke McKeon, Olivia Wright, Tyler Groves and Claire Wright from the Francis Howell School District took home awards for their success at the Braille Challenge.

Four students from Francis Howell School District who are blind or visually impaired recently competed at the Braille Challenge regional competition. Tyler Groves of Saeger Middle and Luke McKeon of Warren Elementary both tied for first place. Francis Howell Central’s Claire Wright and Warren fourth grader Olivia Wright both received honorable mentions.

Claire Wright enjoyed the competition, but said it wasn’t all fun and games.

“The tactile graphics activity was very challenging,” Wright said. “We had to identify and interpret different graphics and charts, and then answer questions about it. It takes practice to get good at it.”

Any blind or visually impaired student from first grade through high school who can read and write braille was eligible to participate in the challenge. Contestants were tested on reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs.

The contest was judged by Teachers of the Visually Impaired and scored locally by volunteer transcribers. All judging was based on national guidelines.

“The Braille Challenge is an exciting event for our students to participate in,” Dr. Will Vanderpool, the district’s director of alternative learning, said. “It celebrates their talents and the years of hard work to learn an alternative system for reading and writing that supports students with visual impairments. The event highlights those accomplishments through competition and the ability to excel with this skill.”

The Braille Challenge is the only academic competition in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired. It was developed by the Braille Institute to motivate students to practice and hone braille literacy skills.

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