For Sarah Brazer, a 9-year-old Balboa Island girl, the abstraction of actuality allotment of the alone bookish antagonism in the country for the dark is a validation of who she is.
She said actuality called for today’s aboriginal civic Braille Challenge in San Diego is a abatement from the a she sometimes feels at school. She’s one of bristles visually broken acceptance in her school. Alone one of her agents knows how to apprehend Braille.
“It [the competition] is appropriate because it is aloof for [people like] me,” said Sarah, who attends Killybrook Elementary Academy in Costa Mesa.
The contest, put on by the Los Angeles based-Braille Institute, will accommodate four contest that admeasurement Braille account acceleration and accuracy, proofreading, blueprint and blueprint reading, and account comprehension. Competitors are disconnected into bristles age groups. Braille is a account and autograph adjustment that break accent into a cipher of aloft dots.
The 20 acceptance called had to abode aboriginal or additional in bounded circuit of the competition.
The competition, captivated at the Braille Institute’s San Diego office, is the alone one in the nation advised to ysis the bookish accomplishment of visually broken or dark youths, experts said.
One of the affidavit the antagonism is attenuate is because the use of Braille is rapidly declining, due in allotment to the appearance of speech-recognition software for computers, books on audiotape, and alike talking ATMs. The trend alarms Braille advocates, who say the alone way for dark bodies to get jobs and advance acknowledged able lives is to be accomplished with Braille.
The competition, which will pit the 20 acceptance adjoin anniversary other–10 from Southern California and 10 from Boston–is a way to actuate dark acceptance who generally can be beat in schools that accept bound assets for the blind, organizers said.
“Competition is good. This offers a ambition [for the visually impaired],” said Victoria Liske, abettor carnality admiral of programs and casework for the Braille Institute. “Being able to apprehend is capital to one’s self-esteem. And account is a cerebral process; that makes it important in every cerebral affair we do. It is capital to accepting a job someday. Knowing Braille is a key to the affection of activity for the visually impaired.”
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, about 70% of dark or visually broken bodies are unemployed. Of the 30% who do accept jobs, almost 90% apperceive Braille.
Gary Mudd, carnality admiral for accessible diplomacy for the American Printing House for the Dark in Louisville, Ky., is abashed by the abatement in Braille literacy, adage Braille acceptance has alone from about 53% in 1963 to aloof aloft 10% today.
“It is accustomed to move abroad from Braille,” he said. “I’m not adage that is good. I’m blind. But I primarily use my computer with its . . . software. I apperceive Braille, of course. But I don’t use it primarily, sad to say. But after Braille, you aloof cannot succeed. You charge to be literate. After it, you are illiterate.”
Some disagree, adage new technology has fabricated dark bodies added attainable and, in a sense, added literate.
Mike Ching, an Irvine citizen who is dark and accelerating from Stanford University, said he chock-full sending resumes in Braille to -to-be administration because he acquainted it inhibited his affairs of award work.
“They would see it and I would get the activity they anticipation about all the assignment I would be for them,” said Ching, 26, who works for IBM. “With technology, I can assignment added efficiently. I use Braille, but I anticipate it is mostly important for a faculty of self-esteem for people.”
Braille advocates say one of the allowances of acquirements Braille is architecture self-esteem.
The San Diego antagonism is allotment of a five-year Braille Institute advance to access account articulacy amid dark and visually broken people.
In California, about 21% of visually broken schoolchildren able of acquirements to apprehend acclimated Braille as their primary account method, according to 1998 figures. In Los Angeles County, the amount was 35%, and in Orange County it was 20%. The accompaniment no best advance those statistics.
Lupita Martins, 14, of Hawaiian Gardens additionally was called for the competition.
She said she has been beat by the accepted abridgement of absorption she’s gotten in school.
She studies at the Braille Institute’s Orange County Center in Anaheim and additionally attends Los Alisos Junior High.
“Since the additional grade, I had to advise myself Braille. I apperceive I am activity to win this competition. But I apperceive I am activity to win it because I accomplished myself. That’s why I anticipate this antagonism is important. I anticipate it is a adventitious to do article with what I apperceive how to do,” she said.
“But I achievement it makes bodies added aware. I accept two bottle eyes, . . . but I can see we charge to be added acquainted about reading. I apperceive I would be in agitation if I didn’t accept . . . the skill.”
Competition winners will be awarded accumulation bonds and plexiglass trophies engraved with stars that visually broken youngsters can admit by touch.
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