Orange County fourth-grader advances to final round of Braille Challenge

10-year-old Ton Pham to travel to Los Angeles for competition in June

Published On: May 28 2013 06:23:10 PM EDT   Updated On: May 29 2013 02:12:10 PM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

A fourth-grade student from Princeton Elementary School is a finalist in the Braille Challenge.

10-year-old Ton Pham is one of 12 students in both the U.S. and Canada to qualify for the final round.

Ton, who is both visually and hearing impaired, attends Princeton Elementary because of his need for intensive Braille instruction to support his learning. Ton was born with glaucoma and has had eight surgeries to try and improve his vision.

"I can't see, well, I can see a little bit but not tiny, small print," Ton told Local 6.

Despite these challenges, he is very bright and maintains an A average in his classes, officials said. Ton has only been reading Braille for thee years.

"It's huge, it's really an accomplishment, we're very proud of him," said Patricia Odham, Ton's vision teacher.

Ton is the first ever Orange County Public Schools student to have earned a spot in the challenge. En route to the finals, he topped 1,000 other students in the preliminary rounds.

The contest assesses proficiency in spelling, reading comprehension and proofreading. Ton does his homework with a Braille writer but attends regular classes at school. He says he'll be spending the next few weeks preparing for his competition.

"I will try to win but I think I'll do a great job there," Ton said.

Ton will be traveling to Los Angeles in order to participate in the finals of the Braille Challenge on June 21 and 22. He was selling chocolate bars at his school to raise money for his trip but has sold old since Tuesday.

If you would still like to help him and the vision program at Princeton Elementary School, you can write a check and mention "vision" in the memo. The school is located at 311 W Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32804.