By: Seth Johnson

After two years of going virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indiana Regional Braille Challenge and Cane Quest returned to in-person competition at Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI), welcoming students and their families to the ISBVI campus from Jan. 28-29.

Braille Challenge participants stand in a row across the ISBVI auditorium’s stage, ranging in age from elementary school through high school. ISBVI director of outreach Cara Kennett speaks at a podium to their right. Behind them, red curtains serve as the backdrop along with various monster-themed cutouts.Developed by the Braille Institute to motivate students to practice and hone their braille literacy skills, Braille Challenge is an annual competition open to students grades 1-12 who can read and write braille. Braille Challenge contestants are divided into five categories and tested on fundamental braille skills that include reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, charts and graphs, and proofreading.

Regularly held at ISBVI, the 2023 Indiana Regional Braille Challenge was made possible with support from IBCF and those who made donations to our foundation through the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP).

An eleventh-grade student at Warsaw Community High School, Kylah first started competing in Braille Challenge back in third grade. For her and her family, Braille Challenge is something to really look forward to every year.

“It’s different from normal weekends. We have things to do. We have places to be,” says Kylah, whose sixth-grade brother, Kallin, now competes in Braille Challenge too. “We also don’t get to go down to Indy very often.”

While they always enjoy seeing the event’s theme every year (The 2023 theme was Where the Wild Things Are), Kylah and Kallin’s parents also really appreciate the way their family is treated at the Indiana Regional Braille Challenge.

“They treat them [the students] like kings and queens — they pull out all the stops,” says Kylah and Kallin’s father, David. “They set you up in a hotel. They give you these great meals. They work really hard, and they have this amazing banquet for the kids.”

While the kids are competing in their Braille Challenge events, parents and guardians are also invited to attend educational workshops, ultimately giving the whole family something to look forward to.

“A little one-night-away thing at a hotel is always fun when you have kids,” says Kylah and Kallin’s mother, Amanda. “I’m always excited to see what the family sessions are going to be too. I think it’s just as much fun for us as it is for the kids.”

At the end of the day, Amanda and David simply love how much their children are embraced at the Indiana Regional Braille Challenge every year.

“They remember our kids, even though they aren’t there [at ISBVI] all the time,” Amanda says. “That means a lot to us as parents because it’s like, ‘These people care!’”




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