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NYS School for the Blind Hosts Annual Braille Challenge

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Rochester: 3rd Annual Braille Challenge at the NYS School for the Blind
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You may not know this, but Batavia, in Genesee County, is home to the only New York State School for the Blind. Saturday, visually impaired students from all across the state came to compete in the 3rd Annual Braille Challenge.

Christopher Lomax, 13, from Hornell came back to his former school for the Braille competition. He's confident and wants to win first place, despite some jitters.

"Well, I’m kind of nervous a little because I don't know how many kids are in my age group. I don't really know who I’m up against," Christopher Lomax from Hornell said.

Christopher attended the New York State School for the Blind for two years before heading back home.

"Well, it's a school for kids that have disabilities and can't really see. They teach them Braille and try to speed them up so they can get back to their own school,” Lomax said.

The school's superintendent says that's the ideal situation, and Christopher is a perfect example.

“We have a bridge program where some children would start off here, learn the Braille skills that they need to read and write and then they would transfer back to their school district,” Fairbin said.

The NYSSB has 53 students, coming all the way from Binghamton to Buffalo.

Fairbin says it's essential that students have access to Braille text, in a generation that's mainly audio and she says this competition highlights just that.

“Kids are texing and not using complete sentences and they are listening to material instead of reading it, so I think it's just a new generation," Fairbin said.

Fairbin says the Braille challenge is a healthy competition, but aside from the academics involved, the kids really enjoy it.

"They don't always get to socialize with other children who are visually impaired. That's the part that they look forward to. Often times, there only may be one for two visually impaired students in the district. So, some of the children here don't have any friends that are visually impaired,” Fairbin said.

The New York State School for the Blind just celebrated its 140-year anniversary. Organizers say it's events like this one that remind people how essential the school is.

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