A total of 17 students from across the region recently gathered at W.T. Clarke High School for the eighth annual Braille Challenge.
The Braille Challenge, a program developed by the Braille Institute of America, was designed to motivate school-aged visually impaired or blind children to continue their study of Braille. Students completed a number of grade-level exercises to demonstrate their proficiency in Braille reading, writing, reading speed and comprehension, spelling, proofreading and use of tactile graphics.
This year, students had the opportunity to meet members of the Long Island Bombers Beep Baseball team, a group which demonstrated their version of baseball using a ball and bases which beep. Third Eye Insight, an organization that offers martial arts, meditation and yoga classes for the visually impaired and blind community, was also on hand and introduced students to martial arts.
Of the participants in the Braille Challenge, W.T. Clarke High School students Michael Taylor and Jessica Banschbach both participated in the event.
The regional event is the first step on the road to the national competition, which will be held in June at the Braille Institute’s headquarters in Los Angeles. Students from across the nation are in the process on completing preliminary testing in the hopes of qualifying for the 60 spots available in the national competition. The top scorers in the preliminary round will advance to the nationals to represent their state as they compete against the top blind students from across the United States and Canada.
Assistant Director of Special Education and Pupil Personnel Services Danielle Betz addressed the participants before the Braille Challenge commenced, noting the district remains honored to host the annual event each year.
“I am so proud of all these students, and also in awe of all the talents that these students will be demonstrating today in the Braille Challenge,” she said, also commending Braille Challenge Coordinator Petra Tarrant. “This day could not have happened without all the hard work and tireless effort she has put in.”
The district also extends its appreciation to the Special Education Institute of New York, Pizza Supreme, the Rockville Centre Lions Club, Seedlings Braille Books for Children, National Braille Press, Humanware and East Meadow’s Special Education PTA for their donations and support, and all the event volunteers for making the day such a success.