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Brilliant in Braille: Blind 11 Year-Old Competes in National Spelling Bee


If you had to work 5-10 times harder than your competitors to accomplish a task, how would you fare? Richelle Zampella must face that exact question everyday as she prepares to compete in the National Spelling Bee. The 11-year-old from Oklahoma is blind which means she has to study by reading Braille. Her teachers say that it takes her 5-10 minutes to read a list of words that her sighted competitors could read in a minute.

She has been learning to read and write in Braille since she was five and her teacher, Cindy Lumpkin, had this to say about her amazing accomplishments, “When I had her in kindergarten, by the end of the year she was reading on a second grade level — in Braille — and it just takes a lot to learn Braille.”

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Jason Wilson

posted May 28, 2012 at 10:36 am

One word….. WOW

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posted May 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm

This girl has to be so proud of herself. My daughter was dx with RP at the age of 11 and now is 35, has a BS degree, married with 2 beautiful little girls. I would guess this family are members of the National Federation for the Blind if she is going to the OK school for the blind. This is a great place. So many people think if you are blind, you don’t have a mind. Some of the brightest people I know are blind. Anyway, you go girl and keep up the good work!!!!

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