On December 1, 2020, enthusiastic readers began to log the Braille pages they read as participants in the 2021 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest. For the next seven weeks, until January 18, 2021, contestants kept careful records of the Braille pages they read.
Sponsored by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults in partnership with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest was created as a way to encourage Braille literacy among blind children and adults. School-age participants entered the contest in any of five categories: grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The adult category was open to anyone beyond high school. Some 120 participants from twenty-eight states and Canada took part in the 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 are awarded $25, second-place winners will receive $15, and third-place winners and honorable mentions are awarded $10. Every participant will receive a T-shirt and a packet of Braille-related gifts.
In addition to the regular competition, participants could be nominated to receive a Breaking Reading Limits Award. 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 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest was an inspiring challenge. "My son is so excited that he is a winner," one mother wrote. "Thank you for all you do; it is because of the NFB that he has these critical Braille-reading skills." "I am so proud of this student!" wrote a teacher. "She is the most dedicated and consistent reader on my caseload." The mother of a kindergartener wrote, "Thank you for encouraging kids to read and love Braille."
The top reader in this year's contest was Sierra Carreiro, a high school student from Clarksville, Tennessee. Sierra read a staggering 8,461 Braille pages during the contest period.
Following is a list by category of the 2021 Braille Readers Are Leaders winners.
First Place: Judy Sanders, Minneapolis, MN, 3,902 pages
Second Place: Lori Parker, Belgrade, MT, 3,380 pages
Third Place: Tara Chavez, Albuquerque, NM, 2,597 pages
Honorable Mention: Angela Randall, Carrollton, OH, 2,596 pages
First Place: Hank Genelin, Springfield, VA, 2,409 pages
Second Place: Mila Chow, San Ramón, CA, 1,074 pages
Third Place: Emma McDermott, Dansville, NY, 380 pages
First Place: Ellie Mason, Wausau, WI, 521 pages
Second Place: Narjis Karimipour, New Orleans, LA, 496 pages
Third Place: Emma Atkinson, Lincoln, CA, 478 pages
First Place: Nadiya Albrecht, Finksburg, MD, 975 pages
Second Place: Passion Augustus, Ruston, LA, 608 pages
Third Place: Keaton Hamilton, Newmarket, ON, Canada, 588 pages
First Place: Jonah Rao, Columbia, MD, 4,193 pages
Second Place: Isaiah Rao, Columbia, MD, 4,191 pages
Third Place: Faith Switzer, Las Lunas, NM, 3,462 pages
First Place: Sierra Carreiro, Clarksville, TN, 8,461 pages
Second Place: Holly Connor, Clayton, MO, 6,474 pages
Third Place: Samuel Thurston, Chesapeake, VA, 3,282 pages
BREAKING READING LIMITS AWARDS
Nadiya Albrecht, Finksburg, MD
Stella Alford, Indianapolis, IN
Olivia Buck, Bryant Pond, ME
Noah Gohlke, Port LaVaca, TX
Evie Hefty, Sparks, NV
Grace-anna Sullivan, Prescott, AZ
Lily Taylor, Marysville, OH
Luis Villanueva, Kensington, MD
Paul Wales, Silver Spring, MD
Congratulations to all of these winners! Braille readers are leaders!