Visually impaired Adel resident is top competitor in braille competition

Submitted to DCN

Braille Institute, host of The Braille Challenge ( - the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired - announced the top Braille Challenge 2017 finalists. These 50 finalists, ages six to 19, their families and industry leaders will gather on June 17 on the campus of the University of Southern California for the annual Braille Challenge finals academic competition, camaraderie and fun.

Lauren Thomson, of Adel, competed as an individual in the “Varsity” division for 10th, 11th and 12th-grade students. She was one of the 50 finalists.

Knowing that braille literacy is essential for success of youth with low to no vision, Braille Institute developed the two-stage annual competition, now in its 17th year, to encourage children to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments. This year more than 1,100 braille readers participated in one of 51 preliminary regional events across the US and Canada.

The top 50 Braille Challenge finalists compete in five categories: reading comprehension, spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and, speed and accuracy. Once the competition is complete, the top three finalists in each age category are recognized at a special awards ceremony honoring all 50 finalists and their families.

For the first time in the 17 year history of the annual event, Braille Institute has moved The Braille Challenge finals from its Los Angeles headquarters to the USC campus. In this move, Braille Institute staff worked with USC to create a Braille Challenge Village environment so that each family can stay in apartments on the campus and experience the excitement of college life. As students compete, parents are invited to attend special workshops, classes, and tours. Additionally, finalists and their families can participate in hosted on and off campus excursions to popular Los Angeles spots.

“The Braille Challenge is a hallmark program for Braille Institute as it focuses on braille literacy while supporting children with vision loss in communities across the country and in Canada to strengthen their academic and social skills,” said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute. “We see participants blossom with confidence, self-assurance and a belief that they can accomplish anything they set out to do. The rewards are immeasurable for everyone involved in the annual event.”

“We are thrilled to move our 2017 Braille Challenge Finals to the University of Southern California, one of the world’s leading private universities,” said Sergio Oliva, Director of National Programs, Braille Institute. “By having students and their families spend time in college classrooms and apartments, we hope to demystify many elements of higher education and related support services so that youth we serve and their families are encouraged to pursue their education and career dreams.”

The 2017 Braille Challenge finalists list along with additional information can be found here: