Students from across the state compete in Braille Olympics

Students from across the state compete in Braille Olympics

The gym at the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired was packed Thursday afternoon as students were racing in a relay.

But this wasn’t a typical relay; it was part of Braille Olympics.

As part of a team, each student would race from one end of the gym to the other and type out a full line of a single letter of the alphabet in Braille. After they ran back, the next student would run forward and type out the next letter in the alphabet.

“It’s like exhilarating almost because you want to be the team with the most points, you want to win it,” super-senior Lynzie Ashley said. “So you want to be the fastest up, but you want to make sure you have it right.”

Students from across Wisconsin came to Janesville to compete. Baylee Alger came all the way from Green Bay to take part in the Olympics.

“This school is the only place I know of that does the Braille Olympics, and it’s awesome,” he said.

The competition helps the students practice Braille in a fun way.

“It can really help you be confident in braille because not everyone learns Braille,” UW-Whitewater freshman Chris Mathews said. “So it’s really interesting and a lot of fun for me to watch the kids be so excited for something like that.”

Mathews graduated from the school last year and had competed in the Braille Olympics in the past. This year, he was back to help lead the students in some of the challenges.

“I just enjoy seeing them be excited about something that is Braille,” he said.

The center director said while learning is the main goal of the games, he also likes to see the kids have fun.

“It’s a very interesting event because it gets kids together on a scale they normally would not have outside of this school,” Pete Dally said. “Really, what we hope they come away with is a sense of community that there’s other students just like them throughout the state of Wisconsin.”

The students also competed in the Braille Challenge on Thursday morning. The test is comparable to the ACT but completely in Braille. There are four sections: speed and accuracy, charts and graphs, reading and comprehension and proofreading. Students who place in the top 50 across the country are invited to Los Angeles to compete in the National Braille Challenge in June.