International Section

The 2nd Onkyo Braille Essay Contest (International Section)


Mr.Ivan Ho Tuck Choy

World Braille Union Asia Pacific (WBU-AP) Secretary-General

With regards to the establishment of the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest,as the representative of the WBU-AP,I am very grateful from the bottom of my heart to have our organization participate and support this event.Originally conceived as a contest for the visually impaired people of Japan,I am please to say that the contest now extends across the Asia-Pacific region.On August 9th,at the Royal Bintang Hotel,Kuala Lumpar,28 compositions from 8 different countries were judged.Judging was an extremely difficult exercise but the committee was able to reach a unanimous decision.We are also especially thankful for the high level of reading and writing support that we received.

The 2nd Onkyo Braille Essay Contest (International Section) Committee Report

9th August,2004
Royal Bintang Hotel,Kuala Lumpar,Malaysia

1.WBU-AP ONKYO Braille Essay Selection Committee

Committee Chairman

Mr.Kua Cheng Hock (WBU-AP President),Singapore

Mr.Ivan Ho Tuck Choy (WBU-AP Secretary-General),Malaysia

Mr.Godfrey Ooi Goat See (Invited Guest),Malaysia

Mr.Monthian Buntan (WBU-AP Board Member),Thailand

Mr.Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (WBU-AP Board Member),Japan

Ms.Jasmine Khoo Khim Chin (WBU-AP Treasurer),Malaysia

2.Essay Submissions

Each country created their own selection committee for which a maximum of five submissions were accepted from each participating country.A total of 26 essays from six countries were finally selected through the respective selection committees: five each from Australia,China,Indonesia and Malaysia; and three each from Korea and Thailand.New Zealand and Cambodia did not have a selection committee but one submission each was accepted from both countries.

3.Essay Selection Criteria (Click here)

4.Two special prizes of U.S.$50 were established and presented to the following recipients by the WBU-AP selection committee.

  1. Zachariah Aaron Clarkson,11 years old,Australia
  2. As he was competing against adults,his age was taken into consideration in presenting this prize.

  3. Mr.Chantharith Nav,32 years old,Cambodia

This is the first submission from Cambodia,and given the recipient has only been studying for a short time,this prize was presented in recognition of his efforts.

5.Acknowledgements

In recognition of the great success of this essay contest,WBU-AP would like to thank all contestants whose efforts and quality of submissions were outstanding.We would also like to thank the selection committees from each respective country.Our deepest thanks are also extended to Onkyo Corporation and the Mainichi Newspaper Group (Particularly the Braille Mainichi Shimbun) for developing and supporting this contest's success throughout the Asia-Pacific region.



International Winning Essays

The Otsuki Prize for First Place (International Section)Awarded: U.S.$1000 and Memento
"How Braille has Changed my Life" -Ms.Amanda Kym Acutt (15) Student,Australia

International Runners-Up (International Section) Awarded: U.S.$500 and Memento

"Achieving Success with Braille" -Ms.Wacih Kurnaesih (50) Teacher,Indonesia

"How Braille Literacy Has Changed My Life" -Ms.Kylie Forth (18) University Student,Australia
Highly Commended (International Section) Awarded: U.S.$200 and Memento

"Harvesting Happiness through Braille" -Mr.Salim Harja (47) Teacher,Indonesia

"Journey With Braille" -Ms.Rosemary Loughran (48) Housewife,Australia

REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN ON THE 2ND ONKYO BRAILLE ESSAY CONTEST

In this report I will try to give the reasons why we,as a committee,have selected these five out of the 28 entrants as the winners.We strictly followed the guidelines given to us; that is,the "impact" that Braille has made on the personal lives of the writers and how those people have made use of Braille to advance their lives.As far as possible,we ignored impressionist writing styles of some of the writers who used their adult experiences to color their essays.For instance,writing books and earning money to give to charity is a noble act but it does not "impact" one's life.We also gave lower weight to people who use Braille for instructing or carrying out their work.For instance,if a person is a Braille teacher,he or she would be in a very good position to impart Braille to others or implement other projects.

The other factors we took into consideration were age and at what age the participant started learning Braille.A teenager would only write about his or her school experiences,while an adult would have more scope to write about.Also,the writer must clearly indicate to us whether they have learnt Braille or have asked someone to write for them.

I must admit that it was a tough assignment for all of us,but we were unanimous in our decision in selecting the five winners.If our recommendation to divide the contest into two age groups is accepted,it will make our work much easier.Also,the experience we gained in this year's contest will definitely help us in future assignments.The full report,with our recommendations,is included this document.Please refer to Item 4 of this report,"Results and Winners," for comments regarding the winners.

GUIDELINES FOR DECIDING WINNING ENTRIES

The WBU-AP Selection Committee members agreed to adopt the following guidelines to determine which entries should be the five winning essays for the competition.The guidelines are as follows:

--The impact that Braille has made on the life of the blind person,

--The effects and benefits of Braille on his or her life,

--How the blind person has made use of Braille to advance himself or herself,

--How Braille has enabled him or her to develop his or her know ledge,talents and skills to progress in life.

While presentation and style could be an influencing factor in reaching a decision,it will not be the priority factor unless there is a tie based on the first two guidelines.

RESULTS AND WINNERS

The WBU-AP Selection Committee had all 28 essays read aloud one-by-one (members followed with their Braille copies).It was agreed that each essay could be given a maximum of ten marks from each of the committee members and the total marks would be divided by six.The average score would be considered as the final result for each of the essays.Based on the above guidelines and scoring system,the five winners were decided as follows:

Amanda Acutt is only 15 years old and she has no adult experiences to write about.She wrote about her actual experience with Braille but not in an impressionist style.From a young age,she was using what little Braille she knew to make life more interesting to herself and for her younger brother.Later on,she used Braille to acquire knowledge and to correspond with overseas friends.Amanda would not take "no" for an answer when Braille was not available.She would do her best to understand,for example,when she played Uno with her friends.Many blind people,when they cannot figure out Braille materials,don't follow it through.Amanda has a lot of self confidence,which has been nurtured by Braille.

At a very young age,Wacih Kurnaesih knew that Braille could give her a "superior" advantage,which motivated her to learn more.She even devised Braille banknotes to play with her friends during holidays to boost her confidence and self-esteem.The knowledge of Braille eventually opened the way for her to enter literary contests.Mrs.Kurnaesih used Braille to make friends in college but she did not abandon Braille even though she could have used her friends to write for her.Later in married life,she made use of Braille to run the household.She did not write from an impressionist angle but kept strictly to the influence Braille has had on her life.

Kylie Forth learnt Braille so quickly that she became more accomplished than her teacher.She has vividly described how literacy empowers one with independence.Kylie realized that Braille could open up vast opportunities,an idea that some in the blind community find difficult to accept.Some people think that the Braille writing system is out-dated.By reading her work,one can sense the great confidence Kylie has in Braille.As a result of her mastery of Braille,she is able to study Clinical Psychology.Her great confidence in Braille has somewhat compensated for her loss of sight and a leg due to cancer.In her essay,she fully expresses the impact that Braille has had on her life,which does not specifically relate to her achievements.

Although Salim Harja writes in a poetic style,he did manage to convey the hopelessness and helplessness of illiteracy.One can sense his deep appreciation to Braille for bringing him out of darkness?like a torchlight?into the realms of knowledge and hope.Mr.Harja is a Braille teacher but he did not focus too much on his career achievments.What he was most proud of is how he used Braille to communicate with his girlfriend,who eventually became his wife.There was no way to meet face-to-face for him to meet with her parents as they were against the friendship.He had no other means of communication with his girlfriend besides Braille.Education is the means to finding a job,but to have a wife is true happiness.

Rosemary Loughran was sighted until the age of 40.What she took for granted came to an abrupt end.The experience of not knowing which way to put on her underwear,just because of a missing tag,made her realize how helpless one can be without sight.She could have simply depended on her family and disregarded Braille,but she soon realized that independence is one's own and one must struggle for it.Despite being discouraged that Braille is becoming obsolete and ICT is becoming widespread,she was very determined,and against all odds,continued learning Braille.The more helpless she felt,the more she wanted to be independent through Braille.Eventually she achieved her goal and is able to read a book on her own,refer to recipes for cooking,knit with Braille notes and even write to pen friends.Her story is an encouraging account of her struggle to be free and independent?not through money?but through a supposedly obsolete writing system,Braille.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

WBU-AP would like to express its very sincere and grateful thanks to the following for their efforts and contributions in making the 2nd Onkyo Braille Essay Contest a success.

1.Onkyo Corporation and the Mainichi Newspaper Group (particularly Braille Mainichi Shimbun),the sponsors of the 2nd Onkyo Braille Essay Contest,for initiating the competition; providing the necessary funds; and for cooperating with WBU-AP in organizing such a competition for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region

2.All members of the WBU-AP Onkyo Selection Committee for their important role in selecting the winners


User-friendly features are provided by the Onkyo Rakuraku Kit.This kit is provided free of charge.Please visit the Onkyo Barrier Free site Rakuraku-kan for more details here.

The Technol Eight Group helps to promote barrier-free access to information through its Braille printers.Click here for more information.

Click here to access the award-winning essays from the 1st Onkyo Braille Essay Contest.

For further information,please contact Mr.Ogura or Mr.Miyahara at the following address.

Onkyo Corporation
Strategic Management Dept.
2-1 Nisshin-cho,
Neyagawa-shi,
Osaka 572-8540
Japan
Ph: 81-72-831-8008

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