‘Nothing is stopping me’: Students compete in Braille literacy

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — The 2024 West Florida Braille Challenge kicked off Friday morning in Tampa.

The idea behind it is to motivate students to practice their braille literacy skills.

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9th grader Christopher Johnson learned how to read braille when he was just four years old.

“I had to go through two years of kindergarten to learn this,” he said.

Johnson says for him, this is how he gets through life.

“You have to train on it, it’s not easy,” he said. “You have to keep training.”

“The brailler is like a device,” he continued. “It has six keys, every six of those keys can write the 26 letters of the alphabet.”

One letter at a time, he can read and type braille, a system of raised dots that can be felt by the pad of your fingertip.

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“You would have to learn how to feel it and feel the different dots with your fingers,” he said. “It’s like a world to us; it’s like our own little secret code.”

On Friday, kids from 1st to 12th grade who are blind or visually impaired battled it out in Tampa at the 2024 West Florida Braille Challenge.

“They’re essentially competing against kids all over the US, Canada, the United Kingdom,” Statewide Educational Specialist for Visually Impaired Sue Glaser said. “It’s an international competition.”

The competition is a way to promote the importance of braille literacy, a skill Johnson says is everything.

“I could never go through life better,” he said. “With braille, I can do whatever I want.”

“Nothing is stopping me,” Johnson continued. “I don’t let my vision stop me from doing anything.”

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