Tag Archives: braille literacy

Photos from a Day of Braille Literacy: 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge

On February 25, we welcomed 22 students and their families to the 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge at the LightHouse headquarters. It was a lively day packed with speeches by keynote speakers, testing for students, parent workshops, games and a final award ceremony (complete with a surprise musical performance by a group of contestants).

Hosted in collaboration with Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, California School for the Blind and Braille Institute of America, the Regional Braille Challenge is the first leg of a two-part contest for K-12 youth who read braille. It is designed to encourage and reward students for fine-tuning their braille reading and writing skills.

Any parent or student on Saturday would tell you that Braille Challenge is an unparalleled platform for promoting braille literacy and bringing braille readers of all ages into one space — whether as contestants or judges. It’s also a chance for kids to connect with their blind friends, chuckle about inside jokes, and for parents to learn more about having a child with vision loss and how best to support them (hint from one of our college panelists: “Don’t shelter them!”)

Braille Challenge is not about winning (though we don’t mind a little friendly competition) but we’d like to recognize the students who placed!

Here are the winners of each level of competition. Once all of the Braille Challenge regionals are complete the Braille Institute will invite the top 10% of all of the students that competed in all of the various regionals to the national Braille Challenge later this year.

2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge Winners

Apprentice 1. Miles Lima 2. Darren Ou 3. Mikey Diaz

Freshman – 1. Teresa Liu 2. Logon Maschke 3. Melina Mendoza

Sophomore – 1. Luke Pilar 2. Rasheed Ali 3. Alejandro Cervantes

Junior Varsity – 1. Ethan Fung 2. Kaitlyn Austin 3. Rocco Romeo

Varsity – 1. Alexia Arriola

Find a selection of photos from the day-long event below!

 

Four children stand in line before the 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge opening procession.
Four children stand in line before the 2017 Northern California Regional Braille Challenge opening procession.
The young competitors wait in line before the festivities start.
The young competitors wait in line before the festivities start.
A closeup of a student's festive and sparkly red high-tops, with canes visible in the background.
A closeup of a student’s festive and sparkly red high-tops, with canes visible in the background.
Braille Challenge competitors Avery and Darren sit in the front row listening to opening remarks.
Braille Challenge competitors Avery and Darren sit in the front row listening to opening remarks.
Braille challenge competitors Darren and Mikey sit together before the competition begins.
Braille challenge competitors Darren and Mikey sit together before the competition begins.
A shot of the audience shows the kids laughing and one competitor playfully covering her face.
A shot of the audience shows the kids laughing and one competitor playfully covering her face.
Competitor Kaitlyn Austin holds her little sister's hand and leads her to her seat in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms.
Competitor Kaitlyn holds her little sister’s hand and leads her to her seat in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms.
Competitors Rasheed and Teresa sit listening to the day's opening remarks.
Competitors Rasheed and Teresa sit listening to the day’s opening remarks.
 Senior Director of Programs Scott Blanks claps as competitor Nikki enters the main events room (smiling, as usual).
Senior Director of Programs Scott Blanks claps as competitor Nikki enters the main events room (smiling, as usual).
92-year-old Cathy Skivers gives her opening remarks about the importance of braille literacy.
92-year-old Cathy Skivers gives her opening remarks about the importance of braille literacy.
Competitor Miles gets some last minute moral support from his mom before heading into the testing rooms.
Competitor Miles gets some last minute moral support from his mom before heading into the testing rooms.
A close-up of Cathy Skivers' braille notes perched in her lap.
A close-up of Cathy Skivers’ braille notes perched in her lap.
Youth services coordinator Jamey Gump stands in the LightHouse pre-function area speaking to a parent.
Youth services coordinator Jamey Gump stands in the LightHouse pre-function area speaking to a parent.
The apprentice sit in front of their braillers in the 11th Floor Kitchen getting ready for testing to start.
The apprentice sit in front of their braillers in the 11th Floor Kitchen getting ready for testing to start.
The Freshman competitors and their proctors sit at a table together in the LightHouse fitness studio.
The Freshman competitors and their proctors sit at a table together in the LightHouse fitness studio.
College-age students Sergio Lopez-Hernandez, Julie J Bird, Nasir Iqbal and Iman Award offer advice to parents during a panel at Braille Challenge. The main takeaway? "Don't shelter your kids."
College-age students Sergio Lopez-Hernandez, Julie J Bird, Nasir Iqbal and Iman Award offer advice to parents during a panel at Braille Challenge. The main takeaway? “Don’t shelter your kids.”
Competitor Rasheed sits typing at his brailler with headphones in. He is silhouetted against large windows that show the buildings of San Francisco in the background.
Competitor Rasheed sits typing at his brailler with headphones in. He is silhouetted against large windows that show the buildings of San Francisco in the background.
Sophomore competitor Luke wears headphones while completing the speed and accuracy portion of the Braille Challenge.
Sophomore competitor Luke wears headphones while completing the speed and accuracy portion of the Braille Challenge.
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A pink-cheeked Teresa Liu types away at her Perkins Brailler during the spelling portion of the 2017 Braille Challenge. She competed at the Freshman level.
A closeup of the brailled Braille Challenge medals.
A closeup of the brailled Braille Challenge medals.
LightHouse employee BJ Epstein helps check the kids' tests behind the scenes.
LightHouse employee BJ Epstein helps check the kids’ tests behind the scenes.
A stack of freshly brailled tests.
A stack of freshly brailled tests.
Apprentice competitor Avery leans closer to her brailler and furrows her brow intently.
Apprentice competitor Avery leans closer to her brailler and furrows her brow intently.
Junior Varsity competitor Ethan works on the graphs and charts portion of the test.
Junior Varsity competitor Ethan works on the graphs and charts portion of the test.
Junior Varsity competitor Kaitlyn reads a braille chart. She is wearing a royal blue tracksuit that nicely matches her royal blue brailler.
Junior Varsity competitor Kaitlyn reads a braille chart. She is wearing a royal blue tracksuit that nicely matches her royal blue brailler.
Another Junior Varsity tester is deep in concentration during the test.
Another Junior Varsity tester is deep in concentration during the test.
Sophomore competitors in the 11th floor conference room at the LightHouse. Natural light streams onto them through the large window.
Sophomore competitors in the 11th floor conference room at the LightHouse. Natural light streams onto them through the large window.
Friends and family wait on the 11th floor couches for testers to finish up.
Friends and family wait on the 11th floor couches for testers to finish up.
Sophomore competitors are hard at work in the 11th Floor Craft Room.
Sophomore competitors are hard at work in the 11th Floor Craft Room.
Competitor Avery poses with her smiling family, who made shirts that say "Team Avery Bravery" in braille on the front and in text on the back.
Competitor Avery poses with her smiling family, who made shirts that say “Team Avery Bravery” in braille on the front and in text on the back.
Youth Services Coordinator Richie Flores and guest speaker Caitlin Hernandez works with Sophomore competitor Alejandro in the craft room before testing.
Youth Services Coordinator Richie Flores and guest speaker Caitlin Hernandez works with Sophomore competitor Alejandro in the craft room before testing.
Apprentice competitor Miles feels proctor Donna's braille embossed bracelet.
Apprentice competitor Miles feels proctor Donna’s braille embossed bracelet.
Competitor Rasheed sits next to his dad, who rests a loving hand on his head while speaking to him.
Competitor Rasheed sits next to his dad, who rests a loving hand on his head while speaking to him.
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A crowd of students, parents and community members play a game after the testing is over.
Junior Varsity Competitor Monse smiles while holding her cane and a braille notetaker.
Junior Varsity Competitor Monse smiles while holding her cane and a braille notetaker.
A shot of the crowd in their seats — with two students chatting up front.
A shot of the crowd in their seats — with two students chatting up front.
Stuart (formerly of California School for the Blind) and proctor Donna sit close while listening to closing remarks.
Stuart (formerly of California School for the Blind) and proctor Donna sit close while listening to closing remarks.
Sisters Maryam and Mariyah giggle while playing a game after the competition is over.
Sisters Maryam and Mariyah giggle while playing a game after the competition is over.
A competitor's little sister walks holding her dad's hand.
A competitor’s little sister walks holding her dad’s hand.
Sophomore competitor Alejandro sits next to his little sister in the multipurpose rooms.
Sophomore competitor Alejandro sits next to his little sister in the multipurpose rooms.
IMG_5649A yellow lab on duty lays on the floor and turns its head to look directly into the camera.
A yellow lab on duty lays on the floor and turns its head to look directly into the camera.
Varsity competitor Alexia sits up front in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms, holding her braille notetaker
Varsity competitor Alexia sits up front in the LightHouse multipurpose rooms, holding her braille notetaker
College-age panelist Nasir grabs a handful of braille fortune cookies.
College-age panelist Nasir grabs a handful of braille fortune cookies.
Competitor Darren sits on a piano bench with his dad and little sister reading his braille fortune from a fortune cookie. The message? "Never give up."
Competitor Darren sits on a piano bench with his dad and little sister reading his braille fortune from a fortune cookie. The message? “Never give up.”

LightHouse Will Host the 2017 Braille Challenge for Northern California

Photo: A smiling young girl wearing a purple braille challenge t-shirt types away at her brailler.

The Braille Challenge is an international competition in which braille readers compete to be the Olympians of blind literacy. Starting this month, blind and low vision students across the United States and Canada will begin clattering away on braillers and slates as they compete in a series of contests demonstrating braille reading and comprehension, speed and accuracy, spelling, proofreading, and tactile graphics, as they compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.

As part of the 2017 Braille Challenge, the LightHouse in San Francisco is proud to announce that our new headquarters will host the regional Challenge for Northern California. This preliminary round is open to students grades K through 12 of all skills levels, and the top-scoring 50 contestants nationally will be invited to Los Angeles in June for a two-day Final Round.

On February 25, students and their parents are invited to join us for a full day of braille events. The day will kick off with a guest speaker who will get the participants pumped up about braille and discuss the benefits of learning and practicing braille for future academic and employment success. Then the students will be let loose to compete. While students are showing off their braille-reading chops, parents and family members will have the chance to attend a series of workshops with presenters who will provide resources and information about further opportunities to encourage literacy, independence and self-confidence.

They will also have a chance to see the dozens of braille-related tools and devices carried by the LightHouse Adaptations store, many available nowhere else in the region.

This year, The Braille Challenge will be held at 46 different sites and proctored by up to 80 individual teachers of visually impaired students from across the US and Canada. Any visually impaired student who reads braille is eligible to participate in the preliminary Challenge contest events. Each contestant receives a brailled certificate of appreciation and general feedback on their performance, which will be sent to families and educators in May.

A big thank you to Junior Blind of Northern California and the Vista Center for co-presenting this event with us.

The Northern California Braille Challenge
Who: Blind and low vision braille readers, grades K-12
When: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., February 25, 2016
Where: LightHouse Headquarters
1155 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Registration Deadline: Friday, January 27, 2016

Registration is now open: 2017 Braille Challenge

Download the Northern California
Braille Challenge Registration Form.

The deadline to register for the Challenge is January 27, 2017. To register for the event please fill out and return the 2017 Permission Form. This form can be filled out digitally and sent via email to jgump@lighthouse-sf.org or mailed by post to LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Attn: James Gump, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.

For questions or to register for the event contact Jamey Gump, LightHouse Youth Services Coordinator, at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7372.

Download and Print the Braille Challenge Save-the-Date.

High School Students Collaborate to Create First-Known Braille Yearbook for their Blind Classmate

Photo: A smiling brunette Maycie reads one volume of the yearbook stacked on top of its three additional volumes. CREDIT John Burgess/The Press Democrat

A school yearbook is a contradictory bit of nostalgia, a time capsule of days you either yearn to forget or wish you could relive. Regardless, it’s a trip down memory lane that everyone should have a chance to take.

For better or worse, 18-year-old Maycie Vorreiter ordered a yearbook every year. And yet, for the Enchanted Hills Camp veteran, receiving the standard print yearbook was never very useful seeing as Maycie, now a graduate of Windsor High School, has been blind since birth.

But early this year, the yearbook’s Editor-in-Chief Charlie Sparacio decided is was time Maycie received a yearbook she could really use. After winning $500 at a 2015 summer yearbook camp, the 18-year-old editor cooked up the idea of surprising Maycie with a 2015-16 yearbook printed entirely in braille. Advocates for the blind say this may be the first-ever braille yearbook.

What does a braille yearbook look like?

“I was so surprised. Honestly, it was the last thing I was expecting,” says Maycie. “What would it look like? I had this picture in my head of it being 10 to 15 volumes.”

The entire Windsor High School yearbook fit neatly into four volumes and, though it ended up costing more than $500 to source, could easily be printed by an agency like LightHouse at an affordable rate. There’s no traditional writing or design on the cover or inside the yearbook, just heavy white paper with a black spiral binding and a small label on the cover. Photographs were omitted from the braille version, but photo captions were included with lists of the students pictured in each photograph, allowing Maycie to have the same knowledge as her friends of who made it into the pages of high school history.

Maycie has enjoyed many summers meeting other blind students at Enchanted Hills Camp – in fact, she met her best friend there when she was 7 – but in a mainstream school setting, it’s important to be able to talk about the same stuff as the other students.

Though every school creating an annual braille yearbook is (quite literally) a tall order, Maycie thinks it’s a gesture that should be extended to each blind or visually impaired student in his or her senior year of high school.

“It was one of those really awesome moments that I would want to relive again, because it was done in braille and it has never been done before,” says Maycie, recalling the moment she received the yearbook in October. “My hope is that in the future other visually impaired students will get a braille yearbook for their senior year, too.”

After graduating from Windsor High, Maycie enrolled at the Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, CA. Though she says mobility can be particularly challenging in the East Bay’s busy streets, she says she’s starting to get familiar with the city and learn the tricks of navigating on her own.

Braille equals literacy

Maycie is part of the less than 10 percent of the blind population that use braille – a number that LightHouse has long worked to increase. She has been reading and writing braille since she was 3 years old and used Perkins braillers and Braille note taking devices throughout high school. Braille, she reminds us, is an invaluable skill for blind students.

“I’ve used braille pretty much forever,” says Maycie. “I don’t ever want to give up braille. Braille is my way of reading and writing, and I don’t ever want to lose it.”

The LightHouse’s MAD Lab specializes in making materials like Maycie’s yearbook accessible – for clients small and large. Any media that facilitates independent education, communication and navigation for the blind community is fair game in our book.

We offer braille translation, audio recording and large print production, including conversion to DAISY formats for audio, in addition to the many forms of embossed and 3D graphics that we create on contract for consumers around the world. Recent big hits include the Apple iOS9 braille manual (available at our store), which consists of five volumes measuring 6 ½ inches high when stacked and weighing close to 10 pounds. The MAD Lab is currently translating the iOS 10 braille manual, which, at 82,164 words, will be larger yet. It may seem like a lot of weight, but that’s how important literacy is to the blindness community.

The MAD Lab produces a wide range of tactile media, including raised line drawings, tactile graphics and tactile maps like this one for Alcatraz, and other GGRNA maps – for everything from Burning Man to BART.

For a rate sheet or an informal quote on a business project, contact MADLab@lighthouse-sf.org.