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Saskatchewan 10-year-old headed to Braille Challenge Finals in Los Angeles

A 10-year-old Saskatchewan boy is on a mission to show others what it’s like to be visually impaired.

“I just hope that people can realize how important braille is, because it’s just a different language of words,” Isaiah Gauthier said. “It should be on signs and anything that a person who has vision can read.”

Isaiah is blind and started reading braille in kindergarten.

“Just like any other kid, I started with letters and did flashcards and stuff and then I did small words,” he said.

He recently won first place in the Regional Braille Challenge where he used his Perkins Brailler and was tested during timed skills challenges on reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs.

Now, he is one of the best in the country and the first from Saskatchewan who is headed to the Braille Challenge Finals in June in Los Angeles.

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“When I got a phone call, I really felt like I accomplished something really good and I tried my best to do it,” Isaiah said.

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Only the top ten students go to the Braille Challenge Finals.

Isaiah said braille needs to be on everything that includes visual print, noting he checks public amenities when he is out, including washrooms to see if braille is included.

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“I would like if there’s braille on them, I’m like, let’s go, because some have braille and then others don’t,” he said. “I think all should have braille because it would be pretty embarrassing to walk in the wrong one.”

Isaiah also wrote a letter to Saskatchewan Regional Parks, asking them to be more accessible by incorporate braille into their sites.

Isaiah’s mom, Renelle Gauthier said her son isn’t fully blind and can see “large contrast” which allows him to do things like ride a bike.

“If there was a big white truck that was on the side of the road, he could probably pick up that there was a truck there,” she said.

Gauthier said Isaiah loves to read, write and learn but some of his Braille programs aren’t accessible in Saskatchewan and other supports can be up to $10,000.

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“I would really love to see more focus on early learning because when Isaiah gets older, if he wants to go to school and be a lawyer or an accountant or whatever it is, we just want him to be able to have the tools to navigate that.”

Christina Jean, braille interpreter with Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said Isaiah accesses materials for school on a tool called BrailleNote Touch and is always advocating for his own learning.

“If he wants access to something and that’s only available in print, he will ask for it to be in braille or tactile so he can learn alongside his classmates,” she said. “He can learn like any other child given the opportunities to do so.”

Isaiah can also use the device to play video games and look up his favorite sports teams.

Isaiah said he hopes his story can open doors for others.

“Just because you can’t walk or maybe you can’t see, doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams because I did that and I got pretty far. It can happen for everyone,” he said.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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