BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nimble fingers bounce across keys, banging out staccato rhythms that echo down the hall. The peck out words their owners can only feel. It's the Braille Challenge at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. "It's quite tough," said LSVI student Cierra
Theriot, "but we get through it like troopers."
The challenge pits visually impaired students from across the state against each other in a test of speed, accuracy, and reading comprehension. They read tiny dots on a page by feel, their fingertips hunting for mistakes and searching for answers. "It's dots
that are raised, and it makes up letters." explains Theriot. "Dots one and two make a 'B' and one and four make a 'C.'"
She has been reading and writing Braille since first grade. Her favorite is the speed test. Students don headphones to listen to dictation passages, transcribing them into little dots on the page as fast as they can. They bang up to six keys at a time to make
one letter. What seems like a daunting task to the casual observer, Theriot makes look easy. "We rely so much on our ears, and when we hear things we just know what to do right away."
The fastest braillers can approach up to 30 words per minute. And while the challenge is designed for fun, it's real goal is to help students with the literacy skills they will need in school and beyond.
Winners at the state competition take their first step to the national competition in Los Angeles this summer.