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Braille Readers Are Leaders

Editor's Note: The Braille Readers are Leaders Contest has been encouraging blind students to read for 14 years now. Canadian blind students have taken part for many years. In fact, the third-place winner for the 1996 print-to-Braille category is a blind high school student from Alberta. The Canadian Blind Monitor is happy to re-print the 1997 Contest information in the hope that many more Canadian students will take part in this worthwhile project.

Purpose of Contest

The purpose of the annual Braille Readers are Leaders contest is to encourage blind school children to read more Braille. It is just as important for blind children to be literate as it is for other children. Good readers can have confidence in themselves and their ability to learn and to adapt to new situations throughout their lives. Braille is a viable alternative to print, yet many blind children are graduating from our schools with poor. Braille skills and low expectations for themselves as readers. They do not know that Braille readers can be competitive with print readers This contest helps blind children realize that reading Braille is fun and rewarding.

Who can enter the Contest?

Blind school-age children from kindergarten through to twelfth grade are eligible to enter. The student competes in one of five categories. The first category is the print-to-Braille beginning reader. This category is for former or current print readers who began to learn and use Braille within the past two years. This includes:

(1) formerly sighted children who became blind after they mastered print and

(2) partially sighted print readers who are learning Braille (Kindergartners and first-graders are NOT eligible for the print-to-Braille category.)

The other categories are: grades K-1, 2-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Students in ungraded programs should select the category which most closely matches the grade level of their peers.

Prizes for the Contest

First, second, and third-place winners are selected from each of the five categories. All winners receive a cash prize, a special certificate, and a distinctive Braille Readers are Leaders T-shirt. In each category, first-place winners receive $75.00, second-place winners $50.00, and third-place winners $25.00 All contestants receive a Braille certificate and a special token for participating in the contest.

Awards are also given to the top five contestants, regardless of category, who demonstrate the most improvement over their performances in the previous year's contest. To be considered for the Most Improved Braille Reader award, the contestant must enter the contest for two consecutive years and cannot be a winner in the current, or any previous Braille Readers are Leaders contest Winners of the Most Improved Braille Reader award receive $15.00 and a T-shirt.

Schools are encouraged to schedule public presentations of the certificates. Alternatively, presentations may be made in the classroom, at the local National Federation of the Blind Chapter meeting, or in some other appropriate setting Members of the National Federation of the Blind will award the certificates and other prizes whenever possible.

Schools for the Blind

In addition to the individual prizes, a $100.00 cash prize will be awarded to two schools for the blind for outstanding participation in the contest. All of the schools for the blind with students participating in the contest will receive recognition in Future Reflections, the National Federation of the Blind magazine for parents and educators of blind children.

Rules for the Contest

Winners will be chosen based on the number of Braille pages read. The one who reads the largest number of Braille pages will be first-place winner, the second largest the second-place winner, and the third largest the third-place winner. The completed contest entry form must be received by the judges no later than February 15, 1997. Contestants must submit with the entry forms a print list of the materials read (see the last page of the entry form). Entry forms without this list will be returned to the sender.

Certifying Authority

The certifying authority is responsible for:

(1) verifying that the student read the Braille material listed and that the material was read between November 1, 1996 and February 1, 1997;

(2) filling out and sending in the contest entry form in an accurate, complete, and timely fashion; and

(3) assisting the student in finding Braille materials to read for the contest.

Teachers, librarians, and parents may serve as certifying authorities. The certifying authority must also be prepared to co-operate if the contest judges have any questions or need additional information about an entry. All decisions of the judges are final.

For more information, contact Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, (410) 659-9314 or (410) 747-3472.

COMMON QUESTIONS

What if I didn't know about the contest until after it began? Can I still enter?

Yes

If I enter late, can I still count the Braille pages I have read since November 1?

Yes, if your certifying authority will verify that you read those pages.

Can I count my Braille textbooks?

No

Can I count textbooks if they are not the textbooks I am now using for my regular class work?

Yes

What if I don't finish reading a book? Can I count the pages that I did read?

Yes

Can supplemental reading books to beginning reading series be counted for the contest?

Yes

What constitutes a Braille page?

Each side of an embossed piece of paper is considered one page if you read both sides, then you have read two pages this is true even if there are only two braille lines on one side.

Can I count title pages, tables of contents, Brailled descriptions of illustrations, etc.?

Yes

I have to transcribe books for my beginning reader. Most of these books have only a few words on one page. If the print book has more pages than my Braille transcription, how do I count pages for the contest?

For the purposes of this contest, the number of braille pages counted per book should never be less than the number of print pages in that book this is so even if the teacher has transcribed the entire book onto one braille page to avoid confusion, we suggest that the books be transcribed page-for-page, one braille page for each print page, whenever possible.

I have trouble finding enough Braille material for my 6th grade-and-up students. Do you have any suggestions?

Yes, The National Federation of the Blind has free Braille materialsstories, articles, etc.suitable for blind youth To request the NFB Selected Literature for Blind Youth order form, call or write: National Federation of the Blind, Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; (410) 659-9314.

Canadian Winner

Although the contest Braille Readers are Leaders originated in the United States, Canadians have always participated and have often excelled. During the 1995-96 contest year, 8 Canadian students increased their Braille-reading skills and engaged in a little friendly competition. We are pleased to report that the third prize winner for all of North America in the print to Braille category is Kelly Hartle of Red Deer, Alberta Kelly is an 11th grade student, who has made the transition to Braille within the last two years. She read nearly 1000 pages during the 4-month contest period. This reading was in addition to her regular school assignments

Kelly was awarded a certificate of achievement, a Braille Readers are Leaderst-shirt, and a cheque for $25.00. Her personal rewards are far less tangible and more long-lasting. Our congratulations to Kelly Hartle on her achievement.