Toledo 10-year-old heads to National Braille Challenge - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Toledo 10-year-old heads to National Braille Challenge

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

A 10-year-old Toledo student is heading to L.A. to take part in a national competition.

Jalen Ballard is representing Ohio as one of 12 children his age who qualified across the country and parts of Canada, but this isn't an ordinary completion. Jalen is blind, and this isn't the first time he's headed to the National Braille Challenge.

"He was born with bilateral microphthalmia and cataracts," Jalen's mother Michelle Ballard said. "So his eyes were really small, and he had cataracts."

He has extremely limited vision, so Braille is how Jalen reads, writes and does school work.

"The first year he took [the National Braille Challenge] was when he was a second grader, and he placed as a top 12, so we've been going ever since," Michelle said. "Last year, he actually came in third place!"

Jalen says the challenge involves several different tests. They are timed, and can range from translating audio to written Braille, or proofreading. It's an accomplishment to attend, but for Jalen, it's not just about the competition.

"Well, I admit that I don't look forward to the actual test itself, but seeing my friends and having a vacation out in California," he said. "I just try my hardest."

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