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Braille Challenge Accepted!
Posted on March 20, 2015, by GAPMP
About 80 participants attended the 15th Annual February Braille Challenge, hosted by the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon on February 5.
For people who do not have a visual impairment, this event is an opportunity to see students show off their Braille skills, in a day-long Braille literacy Olympiad. (See photos from the Ga Academy for the Blind newsletter shown here). It is an event designed to motivate students who use Braille to improve their reading and writing literacy skills. Braille Challenge contest categories include reading comprehension, Braille speed and accuracy, proofreading, and spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs.
This annual event offers families an opportunity to motivate their children and encourage their reading abilities. Just like non-Braille users, practice is the best route to success in reading comprehension and parents are a big part of that. What happens outside of school can be as important as what happens inside of school. The BRAILLE CHALLENGE is a national program of Braille Institute® hosted by regional schools and agencies that serve blind and visually impaired children. It is the only national Braille literacy competition of its kind in the country. It is specifically designed to challenge and reward students who are blind for their study of Braille, which is essential to their future academic and employment success.
The competition is open to students in 1st through 12th grades in Canada and the United States.
The presenting sponsor is The Braille Institute Auxiliary. The community sponsor for this event were the employees of GE Capital in Macon.
Milam said that parents who are raising Braille readers need to do the same thing as every parent does to encourage and increase literacy skills in their child. “First, they need at least 20 minutes of reading each night. And, second, children need a home rich in literacy and language; a home where the parents model reading.”
State School Parent Mentors Patti Lombardi and Sonya Milam, called on the statewide mentors in the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership to help families who have children who are Braille users to learn about the services parent mentors offer in their home communities.
“As you know our studentsand from Georgia Academy for the Blind and the Georgia School for the Deaf and Georgia Academy for the Blind students come from all over the state. When Patti and I conduct our Regional Parent Meetings, we invite the Mentors from the county and the surrounding counties in hopes that our families will connect with the parent mentors in their own school districts. They know their counties and the resources in their counties more than we possibly could,” Milam said.
According to Sonya Milam, “the Braille Challenge was another opportunity to have parents from all over the state, not just the parents of our students, but parents of children with blindness/low vision who are being serviced in their own counties. Braille Challenge is a national event that we have the honor of hosting in Georgia each year. It is daylong event where students on all reading levels get tested on their reading and writing skills. The national competition is held in Los Angeles each year. We had over 80 students, 20 of our own, to participate. Over 30 parents attended the parent program simultaneous to the challenge. What a wonderful opportunity for connection and information.”
Fayette County Parent Mentor and Leadership Chair Allison Stevenson participated offering a presentation on Medicaid and Benefits. Milam commented, “Allison’s presence with us was wonderful! She did a superb job with her Benefits and Waivers presentation. Again, this was valuable information for the parents. Of each of the presentations, this one created the most questions and discussion. “
She also helped parents access parent mentor services and learn about the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership.
“ I know of four parents that day who did not know they had a Parent Mentor until Allison walked us through the GaPMP website and showed them how to find their mentor,” she said.
Scroll down to see a video of the event and links to contact information about the mentors who work with state schools and for Fayette County Parent Mentor Allison Stevenson
Other resources for parents trying to help their children improve Braille skills:
Just Enough to Know Better, by Eileen Curran, is a user-friendly text designed specifically for parents learning Braille on their own. Available from National Braille Press, Inc. 88 St. Stephan Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, this book presents most of the Braille Literary Code in a relaxed, rather humorous style. It includes flash cards and a poster-style “cheat-sheet,” and would suit the needs of most parents. This book does not address Nemeth Code.
New Programmed Instruction in Braille: Second Edition, by Ashcroft, Henderson, and Koenig, available from Scalars Publishing, P.O. Box 158123, Nashville, Tennessee 37215, is the latest edition of a well-known Braille textbook. Designed as a programmed learning test, this book leads the learner step-by-step through the entire Braille Literary Code and includes a chapter on Nemeth Code. In addition, although it has no wall charts or flash cards, it has an appendix conveniently summarizing the rules of the Braille code and a checklist of problem words.
Braille Codes and Calculations, by Mary Ellen Pesanvento, available from Exceptional Teaching Aids, 20102 Woodbine Avenue, Castro Valley, California 94546, 1-800-549-6999 (9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. PST). This is a college text that teaches the complete Literary Code and enough Nemeth Code to get parents through most of elementary school. This book includes additional lessons on topics such as using a Braille writer, making worksheets for young students, making a card file in Braille, and making Braille playing cards. It also includes a checklist of words. This book may be more of a challenge than some parents want or need.