3 Kansas City-area students compete in national Braille Challenge – KSHB

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alphapointe in Kansas City provides employment and services for the visually impaired in our community, and they have three kids who are competing nationally in the annual Braille Challenge.

Wednesday was test day for the Braille Challenge, as all three local entrants said they’re ready.

“It’s the awesome tests, the proofreading, the comprehension, the spelling, all those,” Emrie Wisner said.

Whether it’s their first time in nationals or a return trip, it’s a big day at Alphapointe, where they’re taking tests remotely. The regular trip to California for nationals isn’t happening this year.

“It’s nice to not have the people you’re competing against literally right beside you because you don’t know how they’re doing and you won’t get nervous, oh my gosh they’re Brailling really fast and I don’t know what to do,” Charlie Bethay said.

They seize the chance to test their skills against their peers.

“It’s nice to have a place where I can compete against people because there aren’t as many opportunities for blind kids as there are for sighted kids to compete. That’s why I think the Braille Challenge is so important,” Bethay said.

“It means a lot as far as promoting braille literacy. There are those that say with all the technology, why do we still teach braille? We teach braille the same way we teach print, they need to know how to read,” said Jeri Hile, who’s proctoring the remote tests.

They’re also competing to change the stigma.

“We can compete with our special technology or Braille that only really we use. I think that’s kind of a good thing. It makes it seem like blindness isn’t all bad, because sometimes it can be portrayed as a bad thing, but it really isn’t in a lot of ways,” Brooke Petro said. “It’s something that I have, it’s special to me.”

The results of the Braille Challenge will be announced on July 30.

Ten students from five different age groups are eligible for nationals, so the three students from Kansas City are in the top 95th percentile for braille proficiency.