Aussie Success in Onkyo Braille Competition: Deafblind adventures and Braille Facebook for teens

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA), the national peak body for people who are blind or vision impaired, today announced that there were two Australian winners in the Onkyo Braille Competition, an international essay contest for Braille users across the Asia Pacific region.

David Kovacic, 55, of Ocean Grove in Victoria, won the Otsuki Prize for the overall competition winner, with a score of 76.5% for his essay about the many adventures he’s had since losing his vision and hearing. David writes about “reclaiming his life” by taking up surfing, metal detecting, kayaking and driving a racing car.

Vanessa Vlajkovic, an 18 year old student from Dianella in Western Australia, wrote about whether Braille is still relevant in our age of technology, taking out the Excellence Prize for Category A (14 – 25 year olds) with a score of 73.6%. Vanessa argued that, as a young person with sight and hearing loss, she needs Braille to be able to use technology such as Facebook. With a Braille display attached to her computer, she is able to keep in touch with friends in the same way as any other teenager.

“We’re delighted to see Braille literacy thriving through the Onkyo Competition, and thrilled to have two Australian winners in the year in which BCA is hosting the competition,” said Emma Bennison, BCA President.

“It’s critical to have positive role models for Braille literacy like David and Vanessa in the Australian blindness community at a time when educators and the broader community can struggle to understand that there’s no substitute for knowing how you spell a word or how you punctuate a sentence. Computer software that reads out text just can’t give you the same completeness of information that Braille offers.”

Media contact: Leah van Poppel, Blind Citizens Australia CEO

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