Bridges Blog Extracurricular Resources Financial Resources Series: Forward Focus February, 2023


Forward Focus February

February may be the shortest month of the year, but that just means that we need to pack it FULL! This month we share resources to help us maintain a Forward Focus in February.

  • February 7: Scholarships!
  • February 14: Contests!
  • February 21: Internships!
  • February 28: More Opportunities!

In this second installment of our “Forward Focus February” series, we check out contests – some exclusively available for individuals who are blind or who have low vision and others. Pay attention to the deadlines; you don’t want to miss out!

Blindness/Low Vision Contests

Braille Challenge 2023

On February 4, the Maryland School for the Blind hosted a regional Braille Challenge contest. It was a fabulous day, and we loved reconnecting with our friends and making new friends that day! Dozens of students, families, educators, and other allies joined together at the Maryland School for the Blind on Saturday, February 4. Unfortunately, not everyone who wanted to participate could attend. Illness, transportation issues, and other obstacles can keep great students from engaging in the Braille Challenge contest.

Good news! You can still enter the 2023 Braille Challenge contest even if you missed attending the Maryland Braille Challenge. The Braille Institute (the agency that coordinates the Braille Challenge nationwide) offers INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATIONS. Your teacher of blind/low vision students (TVI) can complete the Braille Challenge Preliminary Contest Request Form for Teachers, and the Braille Institute will send the tests to your school for your teacher to administer to you.

Please note: you may NOT participate in both the regional challenge and as an individual. However, if you missed the Maryland Regional Braille Challenge, this is a great opportunity to still participate!

If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, please contact your TVI as soon as possible (and share the Braille Challenge Teacher Information page). The Braille Challenge Individual Registration deadline is March 1, 2023!


  • March 1, 2023

Contest Age Groups

  • Apprentice (1st and 2nd grades)
  • Freshman (3rd and 4th grades)
  • Sophomore (5th and 6th grades)
  • Junior Varsity (7th, 8th and 9th grades)
  • Varsity (10th, 11th and 12th grades)

To prepare for the contest, you might want to download some of the sample contest files: 2020 sample Braille Challenge contest files and archive (2019 and earlier) sample Braille Challenge contest files.

Also, please check out the 2022 Braille Challenge Teacher of the Year Excellence in Braille Instruction award winner: Melinda (Mindy) Demaris. She has served as a teacher of students with blindness/low vision/visual impairments (TVI) in Maryland (Salisbury, Wicomico County) for more than two decades. Congratulations on your years of dedication!

APH InSights Art Contest

“Since 1992, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has hosted an art contest for artists who happen to be blind. Both amateur and professional artists from around the world enter their artwork in a juried art competition. Original works of 2-dimensional art, sculpture, or craft, are considered each year.”


  1. Legally blind
  2. Function at the definition of blindness
  3. For more information, check out the “Eligibility for Entering Artwork” section of the APH InSights Art Instructions document.
  4. Only ONE entry per person per year
  5. “Original works of 2-dimensional art, sculpture, or craft, are considered each year.”
  6. Must be an original work of art—no kits


  • March 31, 2023


  • “Winners receive prizes, experience their artwork displayed in our annual exhibit, and have a chance to travel to Louisville, Kentucky — the hometown of APH — to receive their award at our annual InSights Art awards celebration.”



  • Preschool / Kindergarten students
  • Grades 1, 2, 3
  • Grades 4, 5, 6
  • Grades 7, 8, 9
  • Grades 10, 11, 12
  • Ungraded students (students not working at their grade level or students with multiple disabilities)
  • Adult Craft
  • Adult Sculpture
  • Adult 2-Dimensional Art


  • “Works will be selected on the basis of originality of concept, expressive use of media, and artistic excellence. The artwork must be created by the artist with minimal assistance from anyone else.”

Freedom Scientific K-12 Student of the Month Program


  1. K-12 students in the U.S.
  2. Blind or have low vision
  3. Have shown a conscientious commitment to their educational objectives
  4. Use Freedom Scientific technology in pursuit of educational goals
  5. If chosen, must (a) complete permission forms and (2) make a short video about the student, the use of Freedom Scientific tools, and the student’s goals.


  • None; one student is chosen each month
  • “Any student nominations that are not selected will automatically be entered for the following month.”


  • $300 Amazon gift card
  • A five-year license of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion
  • Featured on Freedom Scientific’s blog and social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Nomination form:

Other Contests For Maryland Students

Maryland History Day 2023


“For middle and high school students who participate, Maryland History Day sparks critical thinking, and helps develop skills in research and analysis, writing, and public speaking.

Working solo or in small groups, students create original documentaries, exhibits, performances, research papers or websites exploring a breadth of historical topics within an annual theme. Students progress through competitions at the school, district, state, and national levels. Students from public, private, parochial, home, and cyber schools are welcome to participate.  District contests are held throughout Maryland every February and March.”


  • 6-12 students in Maryland
    • Junior Division—grades 6, 7, and 8
    • Senior Division—grades 9, 10, 11, and 12


  • March 29, 2023 – Registration Deadline
  • April 12, 2023 – Project Upload Deadline


State Contest:

  • May 6, 2023: Maryland History Day Contest, UMBC

National Contest:

  • To be determined

Find your local contest information according to your county: Maryland History Day Competitions by County

Check out these Maryland History Day Resources for students.

NOTE: “National History Day (NHD) programs are open to all students and teachers without regard to race, sex, religion, physical abilities, economic status, or sexual orientation. NHD does not discriminate against, or limit participation by, physically challenged students. NHD staff and affiliate coordinators strive to accommodate students with special needs.”

If you wish, the Free Bridges Helpdesk will help you determine any needed accommodations and make a request for those. This is great preparation for the future!!

American Legion, Department of Maryland ​Oratorical Scholarship Competition


  • “to develop knowledge and appreciation of the United States Constitution, the ability to think and speak clearly and critically, and the acceptance of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.”


  • ​“Prepared Oration
    • “Each contestant shall deliver a prepared oration, which must be an original effort. The oration must address some aspect of the Constitution of the United States, which emphasizes the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen to our government. Possible subjects include:
      • An American Citizen’s Rights and Responsibilities Under The Constitution
      • Our Constitution – Worth Having, Worth Defending
      • The Constitution in a Changing World
      • The Constitution in Our Everyday Life
      • The Bill of Rights – Reciprocal Rights and Duties
      • The Constitution – Guardian of the People’s Rights
  • “Assigned Topic Discourse”
    • “In addition to a Prepared Oration, contestants must be prepared to speak on a specific article or amendment to the Constitution. The National office chooses four each year and contestants will prepare a speech for all four. However, only one is chosen, at random, during a contest and all contestants will speak on the same article or amendment. Contestants are sequestered during the contest so they do [not] know which choice was drawn until it [is] their turn to speak.  See below for the list of selected assigned topics for the year.”

Awards for 2023

  • Maryland District and Post scholarship or cash awards vary.
  • State Finals:
    • 1st Place Gold Medal and $3,000 scholarship
    • 2nd Place Silver Medal and $2,000 scholarship
    • Others (3rd +) Bronze Medal and $750 scholarship
  • National Finals:
    • 1st place $25,000 scholarship
    • 2nd place $22,500 scholarship
    • 3rd place $20,000 scholarship
    • All state winners who participate in first-round National contests receive $2,000 scholarships.
    • All second-round contestants receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. ​



There are many, many contests offered for high school students each year. Contact your guidance office and your teachers to find out about more contest opportunities.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridge’s Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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