More than 40 Utah youth participated Friday in the Utah Regional Braille Challenge, which selected seven overall winners who may continue to national competition.
The challenge invites children ages 6 to 18 to compete in five categories, requiring them to transcribe, type and read braille using a Perkins Braille Writer. The categories test reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy.
After regional results are tallied, some Utah winners may be selected to advance to The Braille Challenge, the only national academic competition for blind students in the United States, held in June in California. Utah has had several students qualify and be invited in past years.
Utah's level winners were:
Apprentice Level: Mia Walker, Heber City, Heber School District, age 6, 1st grade.
Apprentice Level, participating outside of grade level: Kaleb Evans, West Valley City, Granite School District, age 12, 6th grade.
Freshman level, participating outside of grade level: Casey Reyes, West Valley City, Utah School for the Blind, age 11, 6th grade
Sophomore level: Marlely Passey, West Valley City, Utah School for the Blind, age 11, 6th grade.
Sophomore level, participating outside of grade level: Fernando Cabana, Pleasant Grove, Alpine School District, age 17, 12th grade.
Junior Varsity level: Brandee Hick, South Jordan, Jordan School District, age 13, 8th grade.
Varsity level: Caroline Blair, West Valley, Granite School District, age 17, 11th grade.
The event was held at the Utah State Division Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Salt Lake City.
The Utah Foundation for the Blind says advances in technology have not replaced the need for blind children to learn to read using the system created by Louis Braille in 1824. Studies show that only 30 percent of blind adults gain full-time employment, but 90 percent of those employed adults are braille readers, according to the foundation.