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Braille Challenge

Vying for the nationals
New York Teacher

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Teacher Trish Strombeck of Curtis HS on Staten Island shares an “aha” moment wit

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Pedulla and paraprofessional Angela Baez of P 141 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, sho
Blind and visually impaired students ages 5 to 21 faced a series of challenges promoting braille literacy in the third annual New York City Braille Challenge on Feb. 10 at P 721 in Elmhurst, Queens. More than 20 students who read braille participated in the all-day event, hoping to become one of the 50 top scorers nationally and move on to the final round in California in June. Braille reading comprehension, writing speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs were among the tests they faced. Challenge winners included two 3rd-graders. Breaks in the busy day included an opportunity for students to write braille valentines and make braille bracelets with the help of teacher and paraprofessional volunteers. Competitors also enjoyed an exercise break: playing goal ball, a Paralympic team sport using a ball that lets out a beeping sound. Families had a chance to explore the latest resources available for the visually impaired at 20 agency exhibits. Vincent Pedulla, the chapter leader of Vision Education Services and himself visually impaired, sees braille as the “typewriter, computer, pen and book” for the visually impaired. “Attendees who were not used to an event like this,” he said, “left with a new appreciation for learning and teaching braille.”

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