Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
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 and Onkyo Corporation Promote Braille Literacy

Braille Essay Contest will Encourage Braille Usage Among the Blind

Baltimore, Maryland (February 3, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest organization of blind people in the United States, will administer 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. Blind or visually impaired persons in the United States or Canada are eligible to apply.

The essays must be written in Braille and must 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 will be two groups of competitors: a junior category for persons up to age twenty-five and a senior category for persons over age twenty-six. Four cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the contest.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are very pleased to be 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. This contest will not only be a fun way for blind and visually-impaired persons to demonstrate the impact Braille has had on their lives but will also raise awareness of the importance of Braille literacy in every day applications.”

Administering the Onkyo Braille Literacy Essay Contest in the United States is a facet of the National Federation of the Blind’s “Braille Readers are Leaders” campaign, a national initiative to promote the importance of reading and writing Braille for blind children and adults. The Braille Readers are Leaders campaign kicked off in July of 2008 with the unveiling of the design of a commemorative coin to be minted in 2009 in recognition of the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille (1809–1852), the inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind that bears his name.

The contest begins on February 1, 2009, and ends on April 30, 2009. All entries must be received by April 30.

For more information about the Onkyo Braille Literacy Essay Contest, including application information, please contact Trisha Tatam by phone at (410) 659-9314, ext. 2510 or by e-mail at For more about the National Federation of the Blind’s Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, please visit