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Braille Challange: A good feel for reading and writing

HED: World at their fingertips The demanding test of braille skills includes sections on comprehension, proofreading and charts and graphs. Milo,a freshman, was the first-place finisher in this age group.
Photo by Michael Shain

At the John F. Kennedy Jr. School — just off Junction Boulvard in Elmhurst — on a rainy Saturday morning, 15 kids give up a perfectly good Saturday to take a test.

The test is the annual Braille Challenge, a national skills competition for blind and visually impaired kids, ranging from third-graders to 12th-graders. It is a long and tense day for the students and their families, not unlike the SATs or the national spelling bee. The competition is a test of focus and skill on the machines, called Perkins Braillers.

The competition is divided into several categories, including the testing reading comprehension, the ability to create charts in braille and to proofread for errors, all under the tyranny of a strict time limit.

The winners get the chance to move on to the championships in California, where the top 50 young braillers compete for the national title in June.

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