Austin 5th-grader wins top prize at 2021 Braille Challenge Finals


AUSTIN (KXAN) — After months of practicing and preparing, Austin’s Leo DeSantis heard his name called in a virtual ceremony of the 2021 Braille Challenge Finals.

The fifth-grader won the top prize

Fifty students, including DeSantis, took part in the Braille Challenge Finals from the more than 1,100 students in North America who participated in the Braille Institute competition. DeSantis says he couldn’t believe he was first.

“I’ve never felt the feeling of like ‘wow, I’m in the top three.’ It was really exciting,” DeSantis said.

The winners achieved the highest scores in Braille reading and writing in their age categories in this year’s competition with finalists competing in their hometowns.

Contestants were challenged in five different categories of braille literacy, including reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and tactile charts and graphs.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the award ceremony and competition were held virtually this year. DeSantis says he plans on competing again next year.

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