Braille Readers Are Leaders
In our Braille Readers Are Leaders contest, children and adults across the United States compete to read the most Braille pages alongside other participants in similar contest categories. This year's contest will begin in December 1, 2020 and run through January 18, 2021. Administered by the American Action Fund For Blind Children and Adults in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind
Encourage more Braille. Improve reading skills. Win prizes.
General Contest Information
- Purpose: to promote the joy of reading for pleasure; to promote a pride in Braille as a viable literacy medium equal to print; and to demonstrate the importance of independent reading in the development of Braille literacy skills.
- Eligibility: blind and low-vision Braille-reading students and adults.
Registration opens November 1 but may be submitted as late as January 18.
Submitting the Registration Form
Submit the registration form and the reading log form by email as attachments to BrailleReadingContest@actionfund.org. In the subject line, please put BRAL plus the contestant’s name. Or, submit by mail to American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults ATTN: Braille Readers Are Leaders 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, MD 21230.
Note: Registration forms must be submitted by January 18.
Summary of Important Dates
- November 1: Registration for the contest opens. Note that registration may be completed later as described below.
- December 1: The beginning of the contest and the first day participants can count their pages.
- January 18: The end of the contest, the last day participants can count their pages, and the last day to submit a registration form.
- February 1: Reading logs must be submitted by midnight.
- February 15: Winners will be announced/notified.
- March: Prizes will be mailed out.
Breaking Down the Contest
Contestants compete against their same-grade peers nationwide to read the most Braille pages during the reading period. There are five grade categories and an adult category in the competition: grades K-1, grades 2-3, grades 4-5, grades 6-8 (middle school), and grades 9-12 (high school), adults.
NOTE: Students classified as “un-graded,” or those who have reading delays, should register in the same category as their same-age peers. For example, a sixteen-year-old student who reads at a third grade level should register in the high school category. However, he or she may read third grade materials. We have found that when students read material appropriate for their reading level, they are able to be competitive with their same-age peers.
- First-place winners in each grade category: $25
- Second-place winners in each grade category: $15
- Third-place winners in each grade category: $10
Breaking Reading Limits and Honorable Mention
An additional award, Breaking Reading Limits, of $25 is given to students who face barriers to learning to read and demonstrate great determination in their journey to literacy. Examples of those eligible for this award might be students who, in addition to their visual impairment, have cognitive and/or physical disabilities, are English language learners, are students with brain injuries, or are students who have been otherwise educationally disadvantaged. A certifying official should fill out the appropriate portion of the registration form giving information about a student to be considered for this award. This can be in addition to any other prize won as a result of pages read.
The contest judges may award one honorable mention of $10 in each grade category to a fourth participant who has read a competitively high number of pages.
Certification of Participation
EVERYONE entering the contest will receive a Certificate of Participation. At the discretion of the contest officials, each participating contestant may receive additional gifts.
Rules for the Contest
- Contestants must meet the eligibility criteria.
- All reading materials must meet the criteria for acceptable materials (see below).
- All materials must be read between December 1 and January 18.
- Registration form must have the name and contact information of a certifying official.
- Incomplete information on the registration form may disqualify a contestant for prizes or awards.
- Not meeting the required dates for registration or the submission of a reading log will disqualify a contestant.
- All decisions of the judges are final.
The certifying official is responsible for:
- Registering the student for the contest.
- Assisting the student in finding suitable extracurricular Braille books and other materials to read for the contest.
- Verifying the student read the Braille material listed, and that the material was read between the beginning and ending dates of the contest.
- Submitting the reading log in an accurate, complete, and timely fashion.
Teachers, librarians, and parents/guardians may serve as certifying officials. Each participant only needs one certifying official.
The contestant, certifying official, and/or parent/guardian may be contacted if the contest judges have questions or need additional information about an entry. Judges may, based upon the information available to them, adjust the number of pages or disqualify a contestant. All decisions of the judges are final.
Reading Material Guidelines
The overall purpose of the contest is to encourage extracurricular reading for pleasure, so the following lists of acceptable and unacceptable contest reading materials are given. The lists also take into account the fact that most of what students in kindergarten, first, and second grades learn in school is connected to reading, and therefore there is not always a clear distinction between required reading and recreational reading.
All material must have identifiable source information that can be checked for verification such as author, publisher, or sponsoring organization.
Acceptable (recreational or independent reading)
- Books: fiction or nonfiction, hardback or paperback, Braille only or print-and-Braille format, mass-produced or individually transcribed.
- Stand-alone articles or tracts with identifiable authors and/or publishers. For example, NFB Braille literature (such as banquet speeches), or reprints of articles that originally appeared in the Braille Monitor.
- Manuals for club activities. For example, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, etc.
- Religious publications. For example, portions of the Bible, Koran, Torah, Sunday school lessons, meditations, etc.
- Materials read in school during free-reading time, in the library, or under any circumstance where students are allowed freedom to choose what they read.
- Supplemental reading books to beginning reading series, such as those that come with the Building on Patterns reading series from the American Printing House for the Blind.
- Books from the Accelerated Reading Program list.
- Cookbooks, but only if an attempt is made to read the book in its entirety, not recipe by recipe (children’s cookbooks are often designed to be easily read from cover to cover).
Not Acceptable (materials required for school assignments, reference materials, and other reading material not designed to be read in its entirety)
- Textbooks and related materials assigned as required reading by the student’s teacher or educational program.
- Cookbooks (see exception above).
- Items without identifiable source information that can be checked for verification, such as author, publisher, or sponsoring organization.
Recording Your Reading (Reading Log)
To find the official reading log, visit the website, . The reading log is designed to allow the recording of 25 entries. If the contestant has more entries than that, submit multiple copies of the reading log.
To receive full credit for the pages read during the contest, it is crucial that the material read is recorded accurately. Before the contest begins, look over the reading log and instructions to ensure that you understand what information you will be required to provide.
Instructions for filling out the Reading Log
1. Material Title: Please provide the title of the book, magazine, etc.
2. Author: Please give the author’s name.
3. Number of Pages: Record the number of Braille pages read in the book. If the contestant only read 200 pages of a 400-page book, then you should record only 200. See the Common Questions & Answers section below for more details.
4. Times Read: Contestants in grades K-5 are permitted to read books up to three times. Please record the number of times a book is read if appropriate. See the Common Questions & Answers section below for more details.
5. Total Pages: Please record the total pages read for each entry by multiplying the “number of pages” by the “times read.”
6. Notes: Space is provided for you to supply any other relevant information about an entry.
Submitting the Reading Log
Submit the registration form and the reading log form by email as attachments to BrailleReadingContest@actionfund.org. In the subject line, please put BRAL plus the contestant’s name.
Or, submit by mail to American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults ATTN: Braille Readers Are Leaders 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, MD 21230.
Note: Reading logs must be submitted by February 1.
Common Questions & Answers
- Q: What if I didn’t know about the contest until after it began? Can I still enter?
A: Yes, registration forms can be submitted until January 18.
- Q: If I enter late, can I still count the Braille pages I have read since December 1?
A: Yes, but only if your certifying official can verify that you read those pages.
3. Q: What constitutes a Braille page?
A: Each side of an embossed piece of paper is considered one page. If you read both sides, then you have read two pages even if there are only two Braille lines on one side.
4. Q: Can I count title pages, tables of contents, Brailled descriptions of illustrations, etc.?
5. Q: What if I don’t finish reading a book? Can I count the pages that I did read?
6. Q: Can I read the same book more than once?
A: Yes, but only under the following conditions: the student must be at an elementary (5th grade or below) reading level; no book may be read more than three times; and the certifying official must clearly identify which titles have been read more than once, how many times read (two or three), and indicate the number of Braille pages read in each reading. For example, “Frog and Toad,” 3 x 20 pages, 60 pages.
7. Q: How do I count pages if I read material from the Bible?
A: You must record the book(s) of the Bible you read (e.g. Proverbs, Matthew, etc.), AND you must read whole pages. Please do not give chapters and verses read. Acceptable--Bible, Book of Job: 20 pages. Not acceptable--Psalms 8, 24, and 32.
8. Q: I have to transcribe books for my beginning reader. Most of these books have only a few words on a page. If the print book has more pages than my Braille transcription, how do I count pages for the contest?
A: For the purposes of this contest, the number of Braille pages counted per children’s picture books should never be less than the number of print pages in that book. This rule should be followed even if the transcription of the entire book end up as one Braille page. To avoid confusion, we suggest that the books be transcribed page for page, one Braille page for each print page, whenever possible.
9. Q: My student reads a lot of electronic books with a refreshable Braille display--are these eligible? If so, how will the Braille pages be counted?
A: Maybe. Formatted files with a .brf extension--for example, files from Bookshare.org and NLS WEB-BRAILLE--will have Braille page numbers in the file. These are acceptable. If you wish to use other scanned or non-.brf formatted files for the contest, you must contact the contest officials in advance for guidance and approval in how to determine the Braille page count.
Note: If using a refreshable display, any speech access associated with the Braille display must be turned off at all times during the reading of pages for this contest.
10. Q: My Bookshare files don’t have page numbers in them. How do I count pages?
A: There are settings that users can set up that do insert page numbers in Bookshare files. In your Bookshare account settings, you can tell it how to handle .brf files that it creates for you. For example, you can tell it to do "embossable Braille" or not, and you can adjust the line length. If you're using Bookshare files for the contest, you should use the embossable, 40-cell line variety. The embossable ones show the Braille page numbers in addition to the print page numbers.
11. Q: I have trouble finding enough Braille material for my older students. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Yes. The National Federation of the Blind has free Braille materials suitable for blind youth, including recent issues of the Braille Monitor magazine and Braille copies of our Kernel Book series. To request a literature list (large print or Braille) contact: National Federation of the Blind, Independence Market, 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21230; 410-659-9314, extension 2216; or . You may also find appropriate reading material at .
Additional sources of Braille materials are listed in the Braille Resources List.
12. Q: Are the contest forms available on the Web site so that I can print out more copies?
Do you still have questions? Contact us at:
American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
ATTN: Braille Readers Are Leaders
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
History of Braille Readers Are Leaders
In the early 1980s, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (both divisions of the National Federation of the Blind) collaborated to establish and administer the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest to help promote the importance of Braille in the lives of blind people and encourage the field of blindness professionals to create innovative teaching strategies. One of the many positive results of this project was the identification of a lack of free reading materials that blind children could keep for themselves which led to the establishment of the Braille Books Program by the American Action Fund.
After more than thirty years of offering the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest, its administration has been transitioned to the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults which has made the commitment to continue and expand the contest as part of its program to promote Braille literacy for children and adults. We are proud that the National Federation of the Blind continues to be a nationwide partner in this important program.
Where to Find Braille Reading Materials
Find Braille reading materials through various resources including:
- Braille Books Program
- Braille Storybook Resources
- The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled
Join us as we continue to promote Braille throughout the nation, a cornerstone mission of the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults and the National Federation of the Blind.