EDINBURG – Approximately a dozen students, who are blind or visually impaired, recently participated in the Regional Braille Challenge, which was hosted by the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District and Region One at Gorena Elementary School in Edinburg.

“I think it’s great and very beneficial,” said Adriana Banos-Mendez, one of the contestants, who is a student at Edinburg High School. “Whether people know braille or not, it gives them the opportunity to learn it a little bit more and expand on their knowledge of braille.”

According to the Braille Institute, the Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate blind students to emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, but challenging, local and national events.

“I’m learning several things about our new braille code that we received a while ago,” said Adriana. “I’m learning a few more things about that and kind of learning a little bit more of how to write it.”

The Braille Institute developed the challenge to encourage blind and visually impaired children of all ages to hone their braille skills, which are essential to academic and employment success in the sighted world.

“The kids are having a really good time,” said Amanda Ramirez, an ECISD visually impaired teacher. “They are interacting with each other, meeting new friends, doing new activities, learning new things and just having a good time.”

Twinkle Morgan, a Region One Education Specialist, who helped to organize the event, said that the Braille Challenge was open to all students from Brownsville to Laredo.

“The students are from all the different school districts and are participating on the tasks that are based on what the National Braille Institute put together,” Morgan said.

The Braille Challenge contestants competed in five categories, including reading comprehension, spelling, charts and graphs reading, proofreading, and speed and accuracy.

The top 50 students with the highest scores across North America will compete in the annual Braille Challenge Finals in Los Angeles, which will be held on the campus of the University of Southern California on June 16, 2018.