Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and Literacy Program for Blind Youth and Prereaders
Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest
BRL Reading Pals
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
Barbara Cheadle, President
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230-4998
Phone: (410) 659-9314, ext. 2360 or 2361
The purpose of the new, expanded Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and Literacy Program is to help blind and visually impaired children become good braille readers. Good readers have confidence in themselves and in their abilities to learn and to adapt to new situations throughout their lifetimes. Furthermore, braille literacy is one of the highest predictors of success in later life for blind students. It's estimated that about eighty-five percent of blind people who are employed are braille readers.
However, many parents and children do not know that braille is a viable alternative to print, or that braille readers can be competitive with print readers. Too many blind children graduate from school with low expectations for themselves as readers. The Braille Readers Are Leaders program generates enthusiasm, raises expectations, and instills pride as children come to realize that reading braille is fun and rewarding.
The program is co-sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB). Both organizations are affiliated divisions of the National Federation of the Blind.
Corporate supporters of the program include the United Parcel Service (UPS) Foundation and Nestle USA.
The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and Literacy Program for Braille Readers and Prereaders has three components: a national contest for students K-12, a literacy program for prereaders, and a recognition program for schools for the blind. The program is conducted annually during the three-month period between November 1 and February 1 of the following year.
The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest is a national contest for braille students, kindergarten through twelfth grades. From November 1 to February 1, parents, teachers, or librarians help students keep track of the number of braille pages they read of extracurricular material. At the end of the three months, thirty-five students from six different categories earn cash prizes and other awards as the top winners. Students who read five hundred or more braille pages for the contest are also awarded Honor Roll ribbons, and all contestants are recognized with certificates and ribbons for participation.
SCHOOLS FOR THE BLIND
Residential or day schools for the blind that enroll a minimum of three students in the contest and in other ways promote braille literacy and the Braille Readers Are Leaders program during the contest period receive a frameable Braille Leadership award for the school, Braille Hero certificates for staff advisors who worked with students who entered the contest, and a special prize for each participating student. To be eligible for this recognition program a Braille Leadership registration form signed by the school principal or superintendent must be submitted with the individual student entry forms.
BRL Reading Pals is a non-competitive braille literacy program for blind infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and older students with reading delays. The goal of this program is to encourage parents (or other responsible adults) to read aloud to or with their children a minimum of fifteen minutes a day during the program period. (Although the program begins the first of November, families may register to participate in the program anytime up to December 5.)
Upon registering for BRL Reading Pals, parents will receive a reading journal, a print/braille children's book, a Reading Pal (a small Beanie-Baby-style stuffed animal), instructions about how to use the Reading Pal to complete the program, a resource list for children's print/braille books, and other tips, games, and ideas. At the conclusion of the program the parent and child will receive a certificate of completion and a special prize they can share together. (Teachers or other adults, such as grandparents, may also register a child for this program. However, the adult must have regular and frequent opportunities to read aloud with the child.)
We know that it may be difficult or impossible for many parents to read to their children every day, but we set the goal high to demonstrate the importance of literacy and to encourage parents early on to "reach for the stars." Every family that registers and participates in the program to whatever extent they can will be recognized. More importantly, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have made a significant contribution to their children's readiness to learn to read - to learn to learn.