BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Dozens of visually impaired students spent Wednesday fighting for the top spot in the "Braille Challenge". It's the only academic competition of blind students in the nation.
The Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired hosts the regional competition each year. This year, nearly 40 visually impaired students from across the state spent the day doing various timed Braille activities, both reading and typing. It was all in attempts to win the title "Best Overall Brailler".
"I can read about 70, I think, 70 words per minute...somewhere around there. I'm trying to get up to like 80 or 90...eventually faster and faster and faster," said Gianni Toce, a Braille Challenge competitor.
LSVI director Bobby Simpson says being the region's most accurate and fastest Brailler comes with much more than just bragging rights.
"The best overall Brailler, and they can be both reading comprehension and speed, will go to Los Angeles, California," said Simpson. "They get a great weekend with their family, go to Disney World and do a lot out there in the National Braille Challenge."
Some of students who compete say the chance to win a big trip and prizes is exciting, but creating lasting friendships is much more valuable.
"I like to see people from around the state because I can see how much we have in common, and I like to meet new faces," said Cyquotta Moore, a competitor.
"The blind community of kids are great kids, and they really enjoy being with their peers," said Simpson. "We have probably four events throughout the year that they come here for and get to see each other, so they get to be quite good friends."
Aside from the possibility of winning a national competition and gaining new friends from around the state, Simpson says the Braille Challenge is a great way for students to prepare for college.
Simpson says Chloe Ashford won today's competition. She wins a visual aid device and a trip to Hollywood for the National Braille Challenge.