Braille Monitor                          June 2020

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Celebrating the 2020 Braille Readers Are Leaders Winners

On December 1, 2019, Braille readers across the United States began to log the pages they read for the 2019-2020 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest. Sponsored by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, the contest was created as a way to encourage Braille literacy.
School-age participants entered in any of five categories: grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This year's contest also included a category for adults who wished to hone their Braille reading skills. Altogether ninety-three contestants from twenty-two states took part in the 2020 competition.
At the close of the seven-week reading period, contestants submitted their reading logs. Based on the number of pages read, three winners were declared in each category. First-place winners were awarded $25, second-place winners received $15, and third-place winners and honorable mentions were awarded $10. Every participant was sent a packet of Braille-related gifts.

In addition to the regular competition, participants could be nominated to receive one of the Breaking Reading Limits Awards. These awards are given to readers who face special challenges in their effort to master Braille reading. Such challenges include, but are not limited to, being an English-language learner or having disabilities in addition to blindness.

For many participants the contest was an inspiring challenge. "I just want to say thank you for this incredible opportunity," wrote the mother of a sixth-grader from New York. "My daughter is so hopeful, and she really is going to try to read as much as she can, which will benefit her greatly. This contest is at the perfect time, just when she needed a boost." The mother of a fifth-grade student from Illinois wrote, "Thank you again for the opportunity for us to have Braille in our lives. As the mom of a son who has low vision due to a progressive eye condition, I welcome any and all ways to encourage my son to read more Braille."

One participant in the adult category was Caroline Karbowski of Ohio. A college student majoring in biology, Caroline has taught herself to read Braille tactilely. “The contest was a great way to practice,” she wrote. “It was a lot of fun.”

The top reader in this year's contest was Aisha Safi of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Aisha, who is in fourth grade, read a whopping 7,798 Braille pages! The following is a list by category of the 2020 Braille Readers Are Leaders winners:

First Place: Susan Ford, Boise, ID
Second place: Tara Chavez, Albuquerque, NM
Third place: Terry Wilcox, Des Moines, IA

Grades K-1
First place: Shaindel Eisenberg, Lakewood, NJ
Second place: Eliya Farnsworth, Mesa, AZ
Third place: Mason Bakken, Kuna, ID

Grades 2-3
First place: Clara Scelsi, Pell City, AL
Second place: Eleanor Mason, Wausau, WI
Third place: Aaliyah Ochoa, Mesa, AZ

Grades 4-5
First place: Aisha Safi, Chevy Chase, MD
Second place: Jace Lyden, Belle Plaine, KS
Third place: Zanyiah Bell, Bowie, MD

Grades 6-8
First place: Refael Shuter, Richmond Hill, NY
Second place: Mercy Rao, Columbia, MD
Third place: Isaiah Rao, Columbia, MD

Grades 9-12
First place: Ammar A. Tarin, Gilbert, AZ
Second place: Holly Connor, Clayton, MO
Third place: Samuel Thurston, Chesapeake, VA
Honorable mention: Kaitlyn Overshiner, Dain Bridge, IN
Honorable mention: Airel Schlosser, Indianapolis, IN

Breaking Reading Limits Awards
Saredo Goumaneh, grade 9, St. Cloud, MN
Jace Lyden, grade 5, Belle Plaine, KS
Paul Wales, grade 9, Silver Spring, MD

Congratulations to all of the 2020 Braille Readers Are Leaders winners!

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