Students from all over Western Washington competed in the annual Northwestern Washington Regional Braille Challenge in Seattle on Saturday at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library and got to test their Beep Baseball skills as well.
The Braille Challenge is a contest encouraging braille literacy. Children in grades 1-12 test their skills in five categories: Reading Comprehension, Spelling, Speed & Accuracy, Proofreading, and Tactile Charts & Graphs. Any students who are blind or visually impaired and able to read braille were invited to compete.
“It’s great to see so many kids ready to show off their skills. We had our first graders excitedly telling parents about the short stories they got to look over, and our older students really impressed everyone in the speed and accuracy section,” Youth Services Librarian Erin Groth said. “Today was all about celebrating braille literacy. It was a lot of fun!”
The excitement grew as the students took a break from a morning’s worth of testing to play Beep Baseball with Coach Kevin Daniel of the Seattle South King Sluggers. Parents and students got to practice pitching, catching, retrieving, and soft batting the large beep ball. Coach Daniel stressed the importance of listening and focusing on the beeping ball to know when to swing the bat.
“That was a really fun activity,” commented student Amelia Laing, “I didn’t think I could hit it, but I did!”
Each participant received a lunch bag full of goodies with “2018 Braille Challenge” on the side. There were also raffle prizes, including Lego sets, 3-D puzzles, official Sluggers Jerseys, and gift certificates to Seedlings Braille Bookstore and the National Braille Press.
This year’s overall winner was 10th grader Meagan Weiler, who won a four-pack of tickets to the Pacific Science Center. Sixth grader Eli McCalmont took second place, and was awarded a VictorReader Stream. Amelia Laing, 4th grade, came in third place and received tickets to Woodland Park Zoo.
This year’s event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of amazing volunteers and generous sponsors.
WTBBL received food, lunch bags, and volunteer service from the Washington Council of the Blind. Raffles and prizes were provided by Bartell Drugs, Seedlings Braille Bookstore, the National Braille Press, Humanware, the Pacific Science Center, and Einstein Bagels. The Seattle South King Sluggers generously donated jerseys and their time at the event.
The Braille Challenge, organized by the Braille Institute, is in its 18th year nationally. It is the only reading and writing contest of its kind, with more than 1,100 students participating across North America each year. For more information, visit BrailleChallenge.org.
The Regional Braille Challenge is sponsored and hosted by the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, a program of the Washington State Library operated by the Office of Secretary of State Kim Wyman. WTBBL is located at 2021 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121.