Roff competitor earns medal in Oklahoma School for the Blind's 20th regional Braille Challenge®

Kolten Pennington, Roff, won a bronze medal in the Oklahoma School for the Blind 20th Braille Challenge® regional competition.

Oklahoma School for the Blind awarded a bronze medal in the sophomore category to Kolten Pennington, from Roff, in the 20th Braille Challenge® regional competition.

Pennington is a freshman at OSB.

Braille Challenge® is a national program sponsored by the Braille Institute, a nonprofit organization that eliminates barriers caused by blindness and severe sight loss.

Thirty-six students competed for medals and prizes.

In the past, Braille Challenge® occurred on a single day on the OSB campus in Muskogee.

Testing has occurred during the past two years over one month, which permitted smaller testing groups, fewer volunteers and flexibility for student absences due to illness or weather.

Volunteer teachers for visually impaired proctored the competition, which was scored by Faye Miller, Oklahoma School for the Blind orientation and mobility specialist and Braille Challenge coordinator.

Contestants in the apprentice, freshman, and transition categories completed braille tests in spelling, reading comprehension and proofreading.

Sophomore, junior varsity and varsity contestants answered questions about charts and graphs, reading comprehension and proofreading, and listened and transcribed passages into braille.

“Using braille effectively is the key to literacy, which leads to independence and employment success for students who cannot use standard print,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said. “We are proud to host the annual Braille Challenge®. This challenging competition gives our OSB students and those attending other schools the chance to demonstrate and improve their braille competency skills.”

All contestants got goodie bags, including a zippered hoodie donated by Frank Dirksen, and other items purchased with donations. They also choose prize items that are accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired, such as cards or games with markings in braille or raised letters they can feel.

Additional Braille Challenge sponsors include Oklahoma School for the Blind, Braille Institute, HumanWare, Liberty Braille, Nano Pac, NewView Oklahoma, Oklahoma Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of Blind and Visually Impaired, Oklahoma Council of the Blind, Reliant Rehabilitation and the Sapulpa Lions Club.

Braille Challenge® competitors will receive brailled certificates and general performance feedback to help improve their skills.

“Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped with Braille Challenge over the past 20 years,” Miller said. “We’ve had teachers from public schools, business owners, braille transcribers, former graduates and retired teachers, but most especially I’d like to thank OSB Outreach Coordinator Sherry Holder, who has helped every single year for the past 20 years.”

The Braille Institute will invite 50 finalists from the U.S. and Canada to compete in the National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles on June 24-26. Oklahoma competitors have advanced to the national finals 26 times since 2003.

The Oklahoma School for the Blind is the statewide resource for the education of students who are blind and visually impaired. Residential and commuter students meet all state-approved education requirements and receive specialized instruction in braille, orientation and mobility, optimum use of low vision, adaptive equipment technology and tactile graphic skills not readily available at other public schools in the state. OSB provides hundreds of free outreach services each year, including free evaluations and consultations, for students attending local public schools, their families and local school staff.

OSB is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

For more information, phone 877-229-7136 toll free or visit http://osb.k12.ok.us/

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