BALTIMORE, MD—Blind and visually impaired students from across Maryland and the surrounding region competed in the 12th annual Maryland Regional Braille Challenge on February 6th. The event and subsequent award ceremony, hosted by the Maryland School for the Blind and the Maryland State Department of Education, were held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the winners recently announced.
The Braille Challenge, a program of the Braille Institute, is the only academic competition for blind students in the United States and Canada. During the event, participants, ages 4 to 19, competed in five challenging categories requiring them to read and type braille. Each category is designed to test their braille skills in several areas – reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy. Contestants are grouped into six levels, according to age.
Students complete preliminary testing across the country from January through March in hopes of qualifying for the top 50 spots available in the national competition and the opportunity to compete against the top blind students from across the United States and Canada in June.
The 1st place winners of the Maryland Regional Braille Challenge included Maya Penna of Fort Belvoir, VA (Apprentice, Grades 1-2); Eniola Osunkoya of Nottingham (Freshman; grades 3-4); Paul Bloxum of New Church, VA (Sophomore, grades 5-6); Naomi-Jean Mills of Woodbridge, VA (Junior Varsity, grades 7-9); and Julia Stockburger of Nottingham (Varsity, grades 10-12).
Two students from Nottingham took home special awards in the competition; Julia Stockburger was the top scorer and Eniola Osunkoya was the most improved participant.
Adam Shrieves of Salisbury, MD was the recipient of the 3rd annual Sidney Iubelt Memorial Spirit Award. The award was established in memory of MSB student, Sidney Iubelt, an avid participant of the MD Braille Challenge and a champion of the spirit of braille literacy.
For a complete list of all participants and placements, visit https://www.marylandschoolfortheblind.org. The national qualifiers will be announced at a later date.