Visually impaired Milwaukee students compete in national braille challenge

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MILWAUKEE -- Students who are visually impaired or blind competed in a national braille competition on Friday, January 20th. FOX6 News spoke to one student is who encouraged by the opportunity.

Xinju Hippe

Xinju Hippe

14-year-old Xinju Hippe is blind.

"I can read at night without getting in trouble, so that's always good," said Hippe.

She doesn't let it get her down. It's all she's ever known, so she's worked hard at perfecting her skills with braille. Hippe is one of 14 students in the Milwaukee area who are competing in the Regional Braille Challenge.

Xinju Hippe

Xinju Hippe

"So think maybe math Olympiad or spelling bee, some of the other academic contests, this is the same thing but it takes a skill that's unique and special to these kids and gives them a chance to showcase everything that they've learned and all the hard work that they've put into the learning that skill," said Jaclyn Borchardt, Vision Forward Association program director.

Jaclyn Borchardt

Jaclyn Borchardt

For the students, braille is their key to literacy, allowing them to function in society like their sighted peers.

"And it has such a huge impact on their latter success in life," said Borchardt.

The competition tests their skills in speed and accuracy, spelling, along with reading and comprehension.

Hippe qualified last year for the national competition and is thrilled to be back again this year.braille-competition2

"It's also a bit nerve wrecking because you want to do well," Hippe said.

She says for her, the competition gives her the confidence her sighted peers might already have.

"I often feel feel like sighted people can do a lot of things to see how the can measure up against each other, and for a blind person to do that against sighted people it wouldn't be fair and so to know I have this opportunity to know how I really stand in my abilities against other blind people," said Hippe.

Xinju Hippe

Xinju Hippe

The students who qualify on Friday, will move on to the national competition in June.