STEM: Braille Yes

Braille Challenge LogoWe would like to congratulate all of the students who participated in the Iowa Regional Braille Challenge this past Saturday. And we would like to thank everyone who participated in the STEM Fest that followed the Braille Challenge, especially our partner the South Central STEM Hub. 72 participants visited 16 tables featuring interactive learning activities and hands-on demonstrations to connect youth with STEM post-secondary options and careers. It was a great day for Braille and STEM!

Three Braille Challenge particpants receive their awards. Student at a desk with Perkins Brailler for the Braille Challenge.Four Braille Challenge participants receive their awards.Students at STEM Table

January S.O.A.R. Saturday

1,000BooksLogoEditJoin us for January 26, 2019 join us for S.O.A.R. Saturday from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the Iowa Department for the Blind.  This S.O.A.R. Saturday will be held alongside our 2019 Regional Braille Challenge.

At this program, children and their families will learn about library and services that can help youth patrons become Successful, find Opportunities, develop Aspirations, and READ.

Register for January S.O.A.R. Saturday Here

During our January S.O.A.R. Saturday, we will have special activities throughout the day.  One of those activities will be The Mini Braille Challenge that will focus on the braille alphabet, tactile recognition and form words by using 2 to 3 letters. You will also get to braille your name by using the Perkins brailler and write a special note to share with a friend.

If you would like to learn more about the Braille Challenge take a look at our Braille Challenge page on this blog.

Whether you are participating in S.O.A.R. Saturday or the Braille Challenge – join us for a great day!

For more information, contact Lois Crozier at 515-281-1295 or

2019 Iowa Regional Braille Challenge

BC 2019_Iowa_Dot T-shirtOur Regional Braille Challenge is held the last Saturday in January each year—January 26th for 2019. It will take place at the Iowa Department for the Blind. More information and registration forms will be available soon!  Watch our Braille Challenge page and postings on this blog for up-to-date information.

See our Instructional Materials Blog for more information

What Is the Braille Challenge?

The Braille Challenge is the only academic competition of its kind in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired. Braille Institute developed the Braille Challenge to motivate students to practice and hone their braille literacy skills, which are essential to academic and employment success.

Any blind or visually impaired student in grades 1 – 12 who can read and write braille is eligible to participate in the Braille Challenge. All Contestants are divided into five categories and tested on fundamental braille skills such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs. Contests are proctored by volunteer Teachers of the Visually Impaired and scored locally by volunteer transcribers, based on national guidelines.

All students can compete in the preliminary Braille Challenge events, which are held from January through the end of March throughout the United States and Canada, but only the top 50 students (10 in each category) with the highest scores are invited to Los Angeles for the final round – two days of competition, camaraderie and fun!

For more information, please visit

Contest Age Groups

  • Apprentice—1st and 2nd grades
  • Freshman—3rd and 4th grades
  • Sophomore—5th and 6th grades
  • Junior Varsity—7th, 8th and 9th grades
  • Varsity—10th, 11th and 12th grades

Taking A Contest That Is Below A Student’s Grade Level

Only students who take the preliminary contest in contracted braille that corresponds to their age-appropriate academic grade level will be eligible to be invited to the Finals. However, to encourage full inclusion and maximum participation in the preliminary round, a student may take any level of contest. Also, the Apprentice preliminary contest is offered in uncontracted braille and also can be taken by students of any age.

Link for sample tests:

iBraille App

The iBraille App is a free app created to bring braille and digital literacy together. Through the app, using an iPad and a refreshable braille display, students can practice and hone their braille literacy skills anywhere, anytime! Visit

Please encourage your students to join in the Braille Challenge on January 26th!!

Two Iowa Students Qualify For National Braille Challenge

BC-LogoThe list of regional Braille Challenge contestants that have qualified for competition at the national level has been released. Two students, Kayla Bartholomew and Lauren Thomson, participated in Iowa’s regional Braille Challenge and will be traveling to Los Angeles this June to participate nationally at The 2016 Braille Challenge.

Roxanne Book, Iowa Braille Challenge Regional Coordinator, notes, “The Iowa Braille Challenge raises awareness about Braille and celebrates Braille readers, while encouraging them to sharpen their Braille skills.” We applaud all who participated and wish best of luck to two Iowans who are going to sunny southern California!

For more information go to the Iowa Department for the Blind website.

The 2016 Regional Iowa Braille Challenge & STEAM Activities

Braille Challenge LogoThe 2016 Regional Iowa Braille Challenge, a unique event that highlights the importance of braille reading and writing and celebrates Iowa braille readers, was held on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at the Department for the Blind in Des Moines, Iowa. Follow this link to view the results of this year’s competition.