By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer
Griffin Miller, 8, of Medina, took first place in the 10th Annual National Braille Challenge on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Griffin, who will enter third grade this fall at Granger Elementary School, competed against 11 other finalists from around the country.
Braille is a code of raised dots representing letters, numbers and punctuation that enable the blind to read and write a variety of languages.
The competition for students age 6 through 19 tests their typing, transcription, comprehension, proofreading and spelling using a 9-key machine called a Perkins Brailler.
Camryn Gattuso, an 8-year-old Harter Elementary School student from Massillon, also was a finalist.
Miller received a $1,000 savings bond and a ''PAC Mate BX420,'' which is basically a portable computer with screen-reading software and other adaptations to make the Internet accessible for the blind and visually impaired.
The Braille Institute sponsors the annual competition to promote Braille literacy.
This year, 60 finalists in five age groups were selected from nearly 800 contestants.
Griffin's mother, Rachel Miller, said his knowledge of Braille has enabled him to participate with sighted children in classroom activities. Griffin, who skipped first grade, reads one or two levels above his grade and completed the sixth grade math curriculum when he finished second grade this spring.
''Braille, for Griffin at school, has made things more accessible to him,'' Miller said. ''All of the kids in second grade are reading Junie B. Jones and he's reading right along.''