Press Release: Two Local Braille Students Make Finals for the 2022 International Braille Challenge!

San Jose, CA: Of all the literacy issues in America, braille literacy is the most underrated and overlooked. Advances in technology have yet to replace the need for children with vision loss to learn to read using this vital medium. With a goal to inspire literacy, the annual Braille Challenge® is the only national reading and writing contest in braille.

After years of study and preparation, and competing regionally in the US and Canada, 51 young braille students are heading to the international Braille Challenge finals on June 24-26, 2022 at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Braille Institute of America, which sponsors the competition.

Over 1,000 students ages 6-19 who are blind or visually impaired competed this year to test their braille skills in five categories: reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy. They competed in five age-defined categories, from “Apprentice” to “Varsity.”

TWO of those finalists competed in San Jose on March 5, when Vista Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired hosted the NorCal Regional Braille Challenge in collaboration with California School for the Blind and LightHouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired. Overall, California made a great showing, with four finalists total.

“We’re so proud to celebrate Miel McGrath (Napa), who competes in the Sophomore category, and Luke Philip Pilar (San Bruno), who competes in the Varsity category,” states Bethany Small, who oversees Vista’s programming. “We will be cheering them on in June.”

Central to literacy, and therefore academic and career success, braille offers a chance for students to thrive in mainstream schools, make friends and share their hopes and challenges with peers. “I’ve personally seen the incredible impact that learning braille has on our students,” adds Amy Jine, who coordinated the 2022 NorCal Regional competition at Vista’s San Jose location. “It contributes immensely to their personal academic success, as well as giving them a community, beyond that even of being on a sports team.”

We congratulate Miel and Luke and wish them all the best in the finals!