Release Date: 
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Announces Winners of 2017 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest

Competition Encourages Braille Usage Among the Blind

Baltimore, Maryland (January 4, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), in celebration of World Braille Day, is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. The NFB administered the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest on behalf of the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union and encouraged all countries in the Region to participate

The essays were required to be written in Braille and could cover a variety of proposed topics related to the importance of Braille. There were two groups of competitors: a junior category for persons up to age twenty-five and a senior category for persons aged twenty-six or older. Each winner received a substantial cash prize, a plaque, and other gifts from the Onkyo Corporation.

The seven winners from the North America/Caribbean Region were as follows:


Otsuki Prize

Jessie Mabry, Connecticut, US


Excellent Work Award, Senior

Tammy Frost, Minnesota, US


Fine Work Award, Senior

Jennifer Spears, Colorado, US

Jamie Lloyd, St. Catherine, Jamaica


Excellent Work Award, Junior

Kristen Steele, Iowa, US


Fine Work Award, Junior

Fernando Reyes, New Mexico, US

Hannah Neils, Minnesota, US

The essay contest, sponsored by Onkyo Corporation, a Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer, and the Braille Mainichi, part of the Mainichi Newspaper Company in Japan, was created to promote Braille literacy and to encourage the sharing of social and cultural information among blind and low-vision persons.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are pleased, once again, to have been a part of this important contest. There can be no doubt that the ability to read and write Braille competently and efficiently is the key to education, employment, and success for the blind. Despite the undisputed value of Braille, however, less than 10 percent of blind children in the United States are learning it. We congratulate the contest winners and commend them for demonstrating the positive impact Braille has had on their lives through their essays, and for raising awareness of the importance of Braille literacy as they live the lives they want.”