Edmonton 6th grader who is blind is a finalist in North American braille challenge
EDMONTON -- A pre-teen from Edmonton who is blind is a finalist in a special competition that tests kids in different braille challenges.
Steve Kiema just finished Grade 6 at St. Boniface Catholic Elementary, and has been learning braille since he was in kindergarten.
"It's not too hard once you have the basic hang of it, there are a lot of contractions and it takes a couple years for you to learn those, but the basic stuff is pretty easy once you've got it," said Kiema.
Kiema has made it to the 2020 Braille Challenge Finals, something that only 50 kids from North America do each year.
"They select the top from each region," said Kiema. "They select the top 50, so all the regions top person combined makes the 50 finalists."
Only three kids from Canada are attending the finals this year, and Kiema is one of them.
"I'm not competing against them, I'm just trying to do my best and see what happens," said Kiema.
The Braille Challenge is an academic competition for students who are blind or visually impaired, created in 2000 as a way to motivate students to practice their braille literacy skills for academic and employment success.
The competition is broken up into four parts, accuracy, comprehension, charts and diagrams, and proof reading.
"I think I'm pretty good at reading comprehension and charts and diagrams," said Kiema.
Kiema uses a "specialized typewriter" called a Perkins Brailler, a braille writing machine, for the competition.
Normally the Braille Challenge Finals are held at the University of Southern California, but due to COVID-19 the competition has gone virtual. Kiema will be competing on Thursday against nine other kids in the Sophomore category, one of two Albertans in the Grade 5/6 age group.
"I think it's a big deal because we're representing our country in other communities," said Kiema.
The winners of the 2020 Braille Challenge Finals will be announced during a live virtual event Saturday.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk