Future Reflections          Fall 2007

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NOPBC Wins Literacy Award

Andrew Zeman, a top-ten winner in grades 2-3, read over 3,000 pages in the 2007 Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest.Earlier this year, the NOPBC received one of thirty-nine national 2006 James Patterson PageTurner Awards in the amount of $5,000. The James Patterson PageTurner Awards serve to honor libraries, schools, individuals, and organizations that strive greatly to encourage the joy of reading across the United States. The NOPBC received the award for its promotion of leisure and scholastic reading for blind children through its Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest, Braille Reading Pals pre-literacy program, and Free Braille Book Flea Market at the NFB National Convention.

Alexander Grigalus-Kern, a top-ten winner in the K-1 category, read over 1,100 pages. Here he poses with NOPBC president, Barbara Cheadle at the Maryland Braille Readers Are Leaders party. The Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest encourages readers in grades K-12 to read Braille outside of their normal school requirements in order to increase their love of reading and improve their fluency in Braille. The Braille Pals pre-literacy program targets younger children so as to introduce Braille as a medium for information and exploration. Twin Vision® books are used, thus allowing parents to read print while the child touches the Braille on each page. The Commission on Reading calls reading aloud to children “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading.” The Free Braille Book Flea Market, in partnership with the UPS Foundation, provides convention attendees the opportunity to browse a vast selection of free Braille books, and then have them packed and sent to their homes free of postage by UPS volunteers.

The connection between literacy and success is undeniable. These programs promote the fact that over 80 percent of employed blind or visually impaired adults report using Braille every day. However, only 10 percent of blind or visually impaired students learn Braille--a statistic that does nothing to curb the 70 percent unemployment rate of working-age blind adults.

You can find information about both of these important programs in this issue. A notice about the upcoming changes to the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest can be found on page 21, and the Braille Pals program overview and application can be found on page 37.

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