Release Date: 
Monday, December 20, 2010
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 2010 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest

Competition Encourages Braille Usage Among the Blind

Baltimore, Maryland (December 20, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States, is proud to announce the winners of the 2010 Onkyo Braille Essay Contest.  The NFB administered the Onkyo Braille Literacy Essay Contest in the U.S. on behalf of the North American/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union.  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 visually impaired persons.  

The essays were required to be written in Braille and to pertain either to how the individual gains knowledge or independence through Braille or to an individual concept about world peace from the viewpoint of persons with disabilities.  There were two groups of competitors: a junior category for persons up to age twenty-five and a senior category for persons over age twenty-six.  Each winner received a substantial cash prize, a plaque, and other gifts from the Onkyo Corporation.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are very pleased 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, only about 10 percent of blind children in the United States are learning it.  We congratulate the contest winners and commend them for demonstrating the impact Braille has had on their lives through their essays and also for raising awareness of the importance of Braille literacy throughout their everyday lives.”

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


  • Nijat Worley; Colorado, U.S.


  • Barbie Elliott; Utah, U.S.


  • April Davis; Louisiana, U.S.
  • Penny Leclair; Ontario, Canada


  • Madeline Link; Pennsylvania, U.S.


  • Ashley Gonzalez; Texas, U.S.
  • Ana Gschwend; Manitoba, Canada

The NFB encouraged all countries in the North America Caribbean Region to participate in the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest.  Thirty-nine essays were submitted from the United States, and three from Canada.  The United States selection committee was established by inviting member organizations from the United States to have a representative participate on the committee.  The selection committee then forwarded the top five essays from the U.S. to be considered in the regional selection process.  The Canadian essays were ranked by a committee designated by the coordinating agency for Canada, and all of those essays were forwarded for regional consideration.  The regional selection committee consisted of all of the members of both national selection committees, and it met to choose the prize winners on August 18, 2010. 

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