Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 18 June 2010 00:00
Eleven-year-old Michael Taylor, a student at Bowling Green Middle School, is on the fast-track to success as he prepares to fly to Los Angeles on June 25 for a national academic competition.
Michael is partially blind, and as a finalist for the second time in the National Braille Challenge, he has never let his impairment slow him down.
Recently, Michael took home five gold medals and one silver medal at the Empire State Games – an Olympic-style event for the physically challenged.
“Michael, like any blind kid, can do the same things as any other children,” said Carolyn, Michael’s mother. “They just accomplish the same goals differently.”
A very well-rounded young man, Michael plays the baritone horn in the school band and also had his artistic abilities on display at the Helen Keller International Art Show.
The National Braille Challenge, sponsored by the Braille Institute of America, is holding its 10th annual event on June 26 and is the only national academic competition for blind students in the country. Michael, a fifth-grade student set to enter W.T. Clarke Middle School in the fall, began learning Braille when he was 3 years old.
Michael’s mother Carolyn attributed a great deal of her son’s accomplishments to Rochelle Roberts, his full-time, one-on-one assistant since pre-K.
“Michael owes a lot of success to her – she is awesome,” Carolyn said.
Dr. Sheila Amata, teacher of visually impaired students (TVI), has also been a very significant figure in Michael’s learning, according to his mother.
In this year’s Braille Challenge, Michael, along with 60 other blind and visually impaired students, ages 6 to 19, will compete in categories that will require them to transcribe, type and read Braille using a device called a Perkins Brailler. Each category is designed to test their Braille skills in several areas – reading comprehension, Braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and Braille speed and accuracy. Every participant will receive a trophy for their efforts, but the first-through third-place winners in each age group will also receive a savings bond in value from $500 for the youngest group to $5,000 for the oldest.