Luther Fuller’s fingers bang out letters as the 10-year-old runs them over the six different keys on his Perkins Brailler.
The clicks sound like a typewriter.
He finishes, snatches out the sheet and runs his fingers over the paper.
“Hello, my name is Luther.”
It was a simple demonstration, but this Quail Run fifth-grader can do much more.
Luther’s skills will be on display Saturday in Los Angeles when he represents Kansas in his age group in the 10th annual National Braille Challenge, a program of the Braille Institute. “It’s an academic competition,” said his mother, Brendy Latare. “Like the National Spelling Bee, it’s kind of on that level for Braille readers. It’s great he’s able to use his skills.”
Luther, legally blind after contracting an eye disease at a young age, qualified with his performance at a regional competition in Nebraska. He was chosen from among more than nearly 800 of the top blind and visually impaired U.S. and Canadian students.
He learned to read Braille when he attended the Kansas State School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan., and credited his favorite teacher, Janie Parr, for her help.
In his Quail Run classroom he uses a BrailleNote machine that operates similar to a laptop. He has excelled academically.
“He’s a pleasure to work with,” said Rachel Haydon, a Lawrence teacher for students with visual impairments. “He’s a very intelligent child. He’s got a pleasant personality. He’s curious about things.”
In the challenge, students will be required to transcribe, type and read using the Perkins Brailler. Luther’s fingers are fast, but he also enjoys proofreading.
“I think accuracy really was the main thing. I’m pretty picky about mistakes,” he said, running his fingers over a sample message he typed.
Luther will make the trip to California with his mother; his father, Bob Fuller; and sister, Elsa Latare.
“I think I would really like to win,” he said. “But I’m not going to be all upset or anything if I don’t. I feel fortunate.”