On February 22, students from across the state gathered in Flint to test their braille skills at the 2020 Michigan Regional Braille Challenge.

The regional competition is one of 51 regional Braille Challenge events that take place across North America each year, drawing more than 1,100 participants. The Michigan Department of Education – Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) coordinates the Michigan Regional Braille Challenge. 

During this year’s event, 12 students and their families participated on-site at Genesee Intermediate School District (ISD) and nine students participated off-site in their own districts. The students were tested in categories such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, charts and graphs, and proofreading.

After the welcome ceremony, students went into testing rooms while parents learned about assistive technology from Nancy Ozinga, an MDE-LIO technology team member. During the presentation, parents received hands-on experience with devices such as the BrailleNote Touch, Mountbatten Braille Writer, and Aira smart glasses.

“Based on parent feedback last year, we offered an assistive technology workshop for parents. We were excited to share the latest devices and apps available to students and their families,” said Johanna Brutvan, an MDE-LIO education consultant who coordinates the Michigan Regional Braille Challenge. “We continue to celebrate braille literacy and embrace how technology can help to enhance our braille skills.”

Braille Challenge testing ended by 1 p.m. The five top-scoring students were given an Excellence in Reading Comprehension Award as well as gift cards to National Braille Press and Seedlings Braille Books for Children.

Students’ results will be officially announced in May. The 50 top-scoring students across North America will be invited to compete in the Braille Challenge Finals on June 26-27 at the University of Southern California. Good luck, students!

Sponsors

Thank you to the sponsors who supported the 2020 Michigan Regional Braille Challenge, including:

  • Genesee ISD
  • Braille Institute
  • Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library
  • National Braille Press
  • HumanWare
  • Seedlings Braille Books for Children