Official Handbook The Braille Challenge is a national competition for

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Official Handbook

The Braille Challenge is a national competition for

school-age children who read and write braille.

Copyright 2015 by Braille Institute of America, Inc


The Braille Challenge

• Overview of the Program 3

Host Agency Partnership

• About This Packet 4

• The Braille Challenge Agreement 5

• Planning Timeline 10

• UEB for 2018 14

• Braille Institute Challenge Contacts 15

Marketing Samples

• Sample Registration Postcard 16

• Sample Press Release 17

• Sample Regional Permission Form 20

Planning and Procedures

• Contest Packets 22

• Electronic Registration Log and Scoring Grid 23

• To Return Contests 25

• Contest Return Checklist 26

• Regional Event Sample Overview 27

• Rules & Guidelines 28

• Instructions for Contest Face Sheets 30

• Sample Contest Face Sheet 32

• Volunteer Assignments 33

• Sample Volunteer Proctor Assignment Worksheet 35

• Scoring Materials 36

• Transcriber Assignment Worksheet 37

• Scoring Grid Instructions 39

• Packets, Prizes & Giveaways 40

• Sample Solicitation Letter 42


• Preliminary Contest Regional Event Summary Sheet 43

Overview of the program
The Braille Challenge® is a two-part contest for school-aged children who read braille. It is designed to encourage and reward students to fine-tune their braille skills. It is Braille Institute’s belief that The Braille Challenge publicly highlights the importance of braille reading and writing, plus offers the kind of positive motivation that helps teachers and families counteract declining literacy rates.
This trademarked program was developed by Braille Institute of America, Inc. in 2000. Based on its appeal and overwhelming success we decided to extend it to all who agree to abide by The Braille Challenge Agreement, in order to promote braille literacy on a national scale.
This planning handbook is available free of charge to all nonprofit agencies or schools serving children who are blind or visually impaired that are interested in hosting a regional preliminary Braille Challenge of their own. Local winners who score among the top 50 nationally will then be eligible to take part in the finals in Los Angeles each June.
The enclosed samples are based on accommodating 75 participants, 15 in each age category. The preliminary Challenge is designed to be a full-day competition, with five 25-minute contests. The day typically includes a pre-competition Opening Ceremony, lunch following the contests and an Awards Ceremony. It can be customized to include parent workshops, special guests and programs for siblings.

about this packet
Our goal is to ensure that all The Braille Challenge regional contests held throughout the nation are consistent so that all finalists will have demonstrated a parallel level of mastery in their age group. Braille Institute has developed the enclosed package for all participating host agencies. It includes information on everything you need to create your own working documents, signage and marketing materials:
• The Braille Challenge Agreement
• Timeline for planning your competition
• Examples of templates Braille Institute can customize to produce your own marketing materials and permission forms
• A sample overview for the day of the event

• Sample documents to organize scoring, registration, etc.

• Contest guidelines
• Staffing suggestions

The Braille Challenge Agreement
As the undersigned host agency (“you” or “your”), you are joining Braille Institute of America, Inc. (“BIA”) as a partner in the effort to reverse the declining literacy rate among blind children. As partners, we agree to fulfill the following roles and responsibilities regarding The Braille Challenge (“Challenge” or “The Challenge”):
BIA Roles and Responsibilities:

BIA Agrees:

• To assist you in developing your own regional Challenge event. BIA’s Challenge Director and Coordinator will be available to answer questions and provide online and phone support during your planning process. BIA’s Publications Director will provide Challenge artwork customized for your event, and BIA’s lead transcriber will be available to answer scoring questions both before and on the day of your event.

• To grant a non-exclusive, non-transferable license permitting your use of BIA’s registered trademarks (“The Braille Challenge” and Braille “B” logo ) and Challenge logo on your locally produced materials and merchandise for purposes of your one-day regional event.

• To review all contests submitted for accurate scoring, and work with your team to correct any scoring errors.
• To develop and provide to you contest material for the five defined age groups and five contest categories that make up The Challenge, including an uncontracted version at the Apprentice level, and to produce and distribute enough brailled copies and recorded passages of the contests in time for your regional event.
• To provide electronic/web-based templates for support materials needed to run The Challenge, including electronic scoring sheets, instructional materials and permission forms.

• To provide limited quantities of customized marketing postcards, plus electronic artwork for you to produce your own Challenge signage, marketing materials and T-shirts, subject to availability.

• To braille marketing postcards, free of charge, if they are provided within the enclosed timeline for production, subject to availability.

• To provide prizes from national sponsors that you may distribute to your local winners to encourage regional participation, subject to availability.

Your Roles and Responsibilities:

You agree:

• That the term of this Agreement shall continue for succeeding years and that either party may terminate this Agreement upon written notice to the other. However, nothing in this Agreement shall obligate BIA to hold a Challenge finals competition or otherwise produce Challenge contest materials.
• Not to infringe, misappropriate or otherwise use BIA’s registered trademarks and/or Challenge logo, identified above, in any manner except as specifically permitted in this Agreement.
• Except as otherwise provided herein, not to copy, reproduce or distribute The Braille Challenge Official Handbook (“Handbook”) or any other support, marketing, contest or other written materials provided by BIA relating to The Challenge without the express written consent of BIA.
• To maintain an image for The Challenge consistent with specific graphic standards developed by Braille Institute to keep the brand integrity of The Braille Challenge intact.

• That although basic Challenge artwork may be altered for your region’s theme, all artwork for postcards, forms, T-shirts, etc. which has been designed locally must be approved by BIA before production.

• That the Challenge logo CANNOT be altered in any way, and must be present on ALL print and electronic materials, including organizational websites.

• That any reference to your regional event on any printed or electronic material, including posters, flyers, press releases, emails, event programs and website pages, will identify it as a regional event of “The Braille Challenge, ‘a national program of Braille Institute.’”

• To follow contest timelines, rules and procedures as defined in the Handbook so as to maintain the integrity of The Challenge.
• To maintain the strictest confidentiality of all Challenge contest materials until The Challenge finals have concluded as specified in the Handbook.
• That in the event of willful misconduct, BIA may take appropriate action such as refusing to provide contest material to you or electing not to seat a finalist from your regional event at the Challenge finals in Los Angeles.
• To use only BIA-created Challenge contest materials for your regional event and strictly follow the guidelines for proctoring the contest. Regionally created contests are considered supplemental, and are not eligible for Challenge Finals consideration. Answer documents may be duplicated, but not altered, including creating sim-braille versions. You may design your own contest to meet the needs of students locally, and may award prizes for local contests, but those students shall not be eligible to participate as Challenge finalists.
• To staff your regional event, coordinate with your own local teachers and transcribers, provide your own equipment and facility and submit all contests including those only partially completed along with contestant contact information to BIA.

• To ensure that proctors and scorers have reviewed the contest rules, guidelines and procedures provided by BIA.

• That as a host agency, you are responsible for related costs associated with your event, including meals, T-shirts and printing. BIA does not accept contributions made in support of your regional event and will not provide tax-deductible receipts for such contributions.
• To name all Challenge program sponsors and national prize sponsors in all print & electronic materials you create if you choose to accept donated prizes garnered through BIA for your regional event.
• To recognize participants with age-appropriate prizes/recognition on the day of your event, to the best of your ability.

• That to be eligible for BIA-sponsored prizes, your regional event must have a minimum of 10 contestants and you must allow students from throughout your region to participate.

• To encourage and support in whatever way you can your Braille Challenge finalists to participate in the Braille Challenge finals, to be held in the third week of June in Los Angeles, California.
• That BIA has the exclusive right to sponsor and present The Challenge final competitions.
• To provide feedback to BIA regarding your own Challenge and to participate in future discussions to plan next year’s Challenge. This includes returning the Event Summary Form and any applicable photos, videos, printed materials, online postings, web links or news clips.


To be signed by Agency Administrator


To be signed by Regional Coordinator (main contact)

Host Agency Name and Address





Sergio Oliva

Director, Programs and Services

Braille Institute

741 N. Vermont Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90029

Marie Saldivar

National Programs Coordinator

Braille Institute

741 N. Vermont Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90029

The Braille Challenge

planning timeline
all local Challenges must be held between December 1st, 2017 and March 9, 2018.
Recommended Planning Schedule
Four months prior to event date:

• Set your date and report it to Braille Institute.

• Participate in the Fall Regional Coordinator Phone Conference.

• If you are a first-time host agency or have a new Coordinator, turn in a signed Braille Challenge Agreement.

• If you have hosted a regional event in a prior year, BIA will e-mail to you an Excel file listing your past participants. This is to be edited, added to and returned after your event to serve as your contestant registration log.

• Using the registration log as your starting point, compile a mailing list to market your event. Include school districts, VI teachers and families in your state or region.

• To request a limited quantity of customized, printed and brailled marketing postcards free of charge (sample on page 15), contact Christine Pak at Postcards are based on Braille Institute’s Challenge template. Allow 20 working days for production and return shipping. If you need more than 250 postcards, we will forward customized artwork to you to print your own postcard.

• To receive your customized permission forms, contact Christine Pak at (sample on page 19).

• Confirm if you will be accepting prizes donated by Challenge regional event sponsors. Please identify Challenge sponsors on all print & electronic materials and correspondence.
Three months prior:

• Define extracurricular events for your Challenge (parent workshops, etc.) and finalize details for your agenda.

• Direct parents and teachers to for more information on sample contests, rules, dates, etc.

• YOU WILL RECEIVE A SEPARATE SCORING PACKET. Assign a scoring Room Administrator. Review scoring guidelines, equipment, scorekeeper and volunteer needs. You also will be sent an Excel file to serve as your electronic scoring grid (sample on page 23).

• Mail postcards to your target list.
Two months prior:

• Customize all working documents to organize your day.

• Begin recruiting volunteers: teachers to proctor contests, transcribers to score on-site, and staff/volunteers to serve as sighted guides, help with registration, etc.

• Mail solicitation letters for local prizes (sample on page 43).

• Order goodie bag contents and giveaways.

• Complete the online Contest Request Form to order contest materials and instructions. You will not need to identify your contestants by name at this point, as we understand you will get many late registrants. Please try to order only what you need, with one or two extras for any last minute registrations. Contest materials are shipped UPS ground, so it is better to order as early as possible. Please submit your order only once. You will receive an automated response confirming your order. Any questions that arise regarding your contest materials order, please contact Christine Pak at .

One month prior:

• Send confirmations to all registered contestants.

• Confirm receipt of Regional Prizes, if they were requested.

• Confirm receipt of the Scoring Booklets and video.

• Train all scoring room volunteers. Be sure all volunteers have reviewed the scoring videos found at

• Finalize site plan and volunteer needs.

• Produce signage, t-shirts, programs, as needed.

• Confirm you have working braillers and digital players for all registered students. Be sure to have back-up units available.

• Test run the electronic scoring grid.

Two weeks prior:

• Hang exterior signage promoting the upcoming event.

• Send press releases promoting event (sample on page 16).

• Check contest materials sent by Braille Institute to be sure you have enough for all anticipated students, and that you have contests for the correct age groups, etc.

open all boxes the same day you receive them.

• The Contest Materials packet will include a master hardcopy of a Permission Form, along with contest instructions. Duplicate and send a hardcopy of the form as a reminder to any family who has not yet completed and returned a permission form to you. Please check all forms to be sure both the contest release box and the Photographic Release boxes are checked, the form has a signature, and that it has been completely and correctly filled out.

One week prior:

• Do a final check of contest materials to be sure you have what you need.

• Review Instructions with all volunteers, PROCTORS AND SCORERS, so they have an opportunity to ask questions prior to testing day.

• Conduct a dry run of the day with all scorers, proctors and volunteers.

• Collate goodie bags and place event signage.
• Order lunches, etc.

• Confirm all needed equipment is in good working order.

Day before:

• Set up chairs, registration tables and contest materials needed in each room.


Compile contests and return to Braille Institute NO LATER THAN March 9, 2018. However, all contest materials should be returned within one week of your event date. If you are unable to

return your materials within a week of your event, please contact


• Follow the Contest Return Checklist and include it with your contests and all SD cards (practice and contest). All contest materials should be returned within one week of your event date. Be sure each contest has only one completed Contest Face Sheet attached and each student packet has a signed, attached permission form. Be sure you’ve returned the following:

-Electronic Registration Log listing ONLY students who have taken the contest. If a student does not show up, please delete their name from the log. If they have made arrangements to take the contest within the next week, keep their name and make a notation.

-Electronic scoring grid with all returning students identified by ID#s found on the Registration Log, and with all scores entered, including those below grade level. A student should be identified as below grade level (BGL) if any one or more contests taken are BGL.

-If a student attempts The Challenge but does not complete any one or all of the contests, please keep them on your Registration Log. Indicate any points earned on the scoring grid, and put “0” for those contests not attempted. Return all contests taken with a Permission Form so that the student may receive a participation certificate.

• Within two weeks after your event, complete the Event Summary form & send all news clips, photos or video of your event (sample on page 44).
UEB for 2018

  • All contests across all categories will be in UEB. There is NO EBAE option.

All forms, registration spreadsheets and other supporting documents will

reflect these options.

  • We will post Apprentice, Freshman and Sophomore practice contests in UEB as samples.


  • Hadley School for the Blind UEB Transition Course: Available from Hadley for $99.00 this fall.

  • UEB Online: Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children's Renwick Centre (a training program for sighted people to learn UEB).

  • BANA's The ABCs of UEB: authored by Constance Risjord (a program for those who already know EBAE to quickly build on their knowledge of braille to understand UEB).

  • CNIB Transcriber's UEB Course: "Update to UEB" file types: Word, print .pdf, .brf, and.dxb.


Sergio Oliva, M.P.A (323) 663-1111, Ext. 3137

Director, Programs and Services

Marie Saldivar (323) 663-1111, Ext. 1215
National Programs Coordinator
Christine Pak (323) 663-1111, Ext. 1321

National Programs Specialist
The following marketing examples can be customized to include regional information for your Braille Challenge event. The customized graphics can be also used for t-shirts, bags, signs, and event programs. Please contact Christine Pak at or at 323-663-1111 ext. 1321 to place an order.
Sample Registration Postcard:

(Sample postcard shows generic version — similar artwork will be customized with information for each regional agency.)

Sample Press Release

Insert Organization Name



For Immediate Release
Local Contact: [Contact Person, Title, Phone Number]

National Contact: John Tellum, 310-210-8779

[Organization Name] Hosts 2017 Regional Braille Challenge on [Day, Month Date] For Students Who Are Blind & Visually Impaired in [city/county]
Students Join More Than 1000 Others
Across North America to Celebrate Braille Skills
[city] – [Month X, 2018] -- [name of organization] will host its [# i.e. 1st, 2nd] Regional Braille Challenge on [Day, Month x, 2018], from [X:XXAM – X:XXPM]. More than XX blind and visually impaired students (ages 6-19) from [area] will gather at the [location name] ([address]) to test their braille skills in five categories: reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading,

proofreading and braille speed and accuracy. Students come from communities including: [community names]

“[insert quote from local organization about why you participate in the Braille Challenge and what it means to your students], said [insert name and title].

Highlights from the [name of regional] Regional Braille Challenge are a [insert theme] complete with [speakers/fun activities] for the students and their parents.

“[quote from a student], said [student’s name], 2018 [name of regional] Regional Braille Competitor.

The Braille Challenge®, now in its 18th year, is sponsored by the Braille Institute. The Braille Challenge is the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired. Regionals are open to students of all abilities, giving even emerging braille readers a chance to reach a personal best score. It’s also a rare chance for students who are blind or visually impaired and attend mainstream schools (rather than schools for students who are blind and visually impaired) to make friends and share their hopes and challenges with peers. But for those top academics, the [insert name of regional] is the first step to the coveted national finals Braille Challenge competition held at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Braille Institute. At the finals, 50 students with the highest scores from around North America embark on another daylong competition to test their braille skills alongside their peers. Immediately following the competition, winners from each age group are announced at an awards ceremony unparalleled with

excitement, pride and celebration.

Of all the literacy issues in America, braille literacy is the most underrated and overlooked. Advances in technology have not replaced the need for blind children to learn to read using this vital medium.

Peter Mindnich, president, Braille Institute adds, “Braille is a crucial tool for many blind and visually impaired students as it opens the doors of literacy and drives education advancement and future employment opportunities. With more than 1000 students expected to participate in the Braille Challenge this year alone, we continue to be more inspired each year by the passion and commitment of each contestant.”

About [insert your organization]

[insert basic information about your organization here]

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