It was a rainy, windy day in Eastern Washington, but the weather didn’t stop talented braille readers from coming out to compete in the first of two annual Regional Braille Challenges hosted by The Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL). Cheney Middle School provided the perfect location for fun and friendly competition among the local 3rd graders participating this year.
The Braille Challenge, which WTBBL hosts every year, is a national competition created by the Braille Institute to celebrate and encourage braille literacy skills. This one-of-a-kind contest is open to students in grades 1-12 and is a great opportunity for braille readers to show off their skills in reading comprehension, spelling, proofreading, speed & accuracy, and the reading of tactile charts & graphs.
But the day wasn’t all testing! Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Spokane Puppy Raisers came out to the event for a wholesome meet-and-greet with the next generation of dogs with very important jobs. “I can’t wait until I can get my own guide dog!” exclaimed Russell, age 9, who just happened to also be the top scorer of the day.
A delicious pizza lunch provided by The Washington Council of the Blind and a spirited Martial Arts session for the blind & visually impaired by the Arvidsons of Anacortes Soo Bahk Do rounded out the special event. Not only did our students get to show off their brailling skills, but they also learned some powerful self-defense moves and were even breaking wooden boards by the end of session. Though we had a small group, the big impact of this special day celebrating braille and blind students was palpable. Madilyn, 8, is already preparing for another round: “Thank you for coming, I’m having fun! I want to do this again next year.”
WTBBL will be hosting the second Regional Braille Challenge in Seattle on Saturday, February 22, from 9 to 4 p.m. All are welcome to meet Seattle’s puppies and their raisers, join in for martial arts, and cheer on the contestants. We hope to see you there! Contact Youth Services Librarian Erin Groth for more information on this event at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WTBBL is a program of the Washington State Library, which is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.