Michael F. Easley
Governor

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom
Secretary

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: January 9, 2007

  Contact: Kathryn Flynn 919-593-1114

Braille Challenge Launched, Deadline is January 31

RALEIGH – The first regional Braille Challenge™ in North Carolina will be hosted by the outreach program at The Governor Morehead School. The Braille Challenge™ program was designed by Braille Institute of America and is coordinated through an array of academic and community partners, with the goal of motivating school-age braille readers from throughout North America to excel in this vital medium. Now in its sixth year as a national event, it has grown in size and impact and this year was awarded the prestigious “Creative Use of Braille Award” by the American Printing House for the Blind at their Annual Meeting last month in Louisville, Kentucky. There is still time to enter the challenge. The deadline for registering is January 31, 2006.

The Braille Challenge™ is a part of Braille Institute’s literacy initiative. From the mid-‘60s to the present, the percentage of school-aged blind children in this country who use raille as their primary reading medium has dropped from 50 percent to 12 percent, and more than a generation of blind children has been largely allowed to grow up illiterate under the damaging notion that tape recordings and talking computers are sufficient for them. Braille is the only means by which blind people can truly read the written language.
A sighted child has instantaneous visual feedback aiding them in the writing process. A blind or visually impaired child who writes on a keyboard with speech output before learning the basics may never learn the intricacies of writing; spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Academic research has shown that the early learning of raille correlates strongly with both academic and employment success later in life.

Eligible students include all blind and visually impaired students from N.C. in 1st through 12th grade. Students are divided into 5 age groups, and asked to complete a series of exercises demonstrating proficiency in braille reading and writing, reading, speed and comprehension, spelling, proofreading and use of tactile graphics. All students participating in the preliminary-round contest are acknowledged, with prizes. Then all eligible contests are ranked nationally, with the 60 top-scoring contestants earning a three-day trip to the Braille Institute in Los Angeles as finalists in June.

To register your student to participate in this unique Braille literacy contest or for more information, call our office at (919)715-4257 or e-mail Kathryn.Flynn@ncmail.net or Mary.Flanagan@ncmail.net.

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Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
(919)733-9190
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane
Director