The 18th Premier’s Reading Challenge has yielded some wonderful results, particularly among vision impaired students.
South Australian School for Vision Impaired (SASVI) year 6 students, Neveah and Shianne have read a combined effort of 75 books so far for 2021. Between them, over the 7 years they’ve completed the Challenge from reception to now, they estimate it would be more than 400 books, perhaps even 500.
So, what does reading look like for the vision impaired? If reading braille, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone is 10 volumes and approximately 500 braille pages, standing about 30cm high. The Order of the Phoenix is 15 Volumes, approximately 750 pages, and stands at about 60cm high.
Neveah and Shianne use a range of technologies to breeze through their reading lists. In year 1 the girls were introduced to the BrailleNote, a device that can be used for both reading braille and for word processing. The bookworms have progressed to accessing information via a laptop computer using JAWS, a screen reading program. The duo also can access audio books via a Victor Reader and iPads.
Neveah loves the thrill of opening a fresh braille book, while Shianne finds an audiobook and a hot chocolate a perfect pairing. The girls particularly enjoyed reading the Percy Jackson books and the Diary of Anne Frank this year.
SASVI Teacher Librarian Lauren Fountain says the school encourages all students to participate in the Premier’s Reading Challenge by having Challenge books available in large print, braille, and audio versions. The accessibility of Challenge books is a big reason why the school has a 100% participation rate in 2021, as it does most years. “For our students, having access to books in their preferred media, be it braille, large print, audio or eBraille, is paramount to their success. It means they can read the books they want to, and share stories with their families and friends.”
This year’s Premier’s Reading Challenge also had an all-time high number of Aboriginal students, with the number rising from 4,971 in 2020 to 4,980 in 2021.
Ten Aboriginal schools took part in the Challenge this year, with one school recording 97% of students participating.
This year, 18 students will receive the Reader for Life award, commemorating their completion of the challenge every year from reception to year 12.
More than 129,450 students from government and non-government schools completed the challenge this year, representing more than 97% of South Australian schools.
More information is available on the Premier’s Reading Challenge website.