Girl to go to U.S. braille challenge

Published 10:06 am Friday, June 15, 2007

VIDALIA — One local girl can read better and faster with her fingers than many people can with their eyes.

Vidalia resident Brittany Scott, 15, was born with a condition known as optic atrophy, leaving her completely blind, but that didn’t stop her from learning how to read.

Scott will represent Louisiana at the seventh annual National Braille Challenge.

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The competition will be in Los Angeles June 22 and 23.

Brittany first got involved with the competition when a teacher asked her and two other students if they would sign up for it, she said.

In the qualifying contest, she had to copy what she heard from a tape and also had to copy what she read from a paper, she said.

It wasn’t much of a challenge, though, she said.

“I thought it was normal except for it being on Saturday,” Scott said.

While she’s waiting to go the contest, Brittany splits her time between home and summer classes at the Louisiana School for the blind, which she attends Monday through Thursday.

“It’s frustrating just being here,” she said. “I don’t want to waste time.”

Braille is a series of coded dots and dashes raised on a page, developed for visually impaired reading. The reader deciphers the code by feeling the raised elements on the page.

The National Braille challenge is an academic competition for blind students to test their literacy skills.

Competition participants must transcribe and read Braille using special devices during a series of sessions that test their speed, accuracy, comprehension and ability to decode charts and graphs in Braille, said Courtney Goines, media relations manager for the Braille Institute of America, Inc.

Students will even be tested on spelling, she said.

Scott attended Ridgecrest Elementary through the eighth grade, and hopes to study law to become either a criminal prosecutor or as a juvenile defender.

She’s not worried or nervous about the competition, she said.

“I’ll just go and do my best,” she said.