Miami Teen to Compete in National Braille Challenge

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This South Florida teen is a whiz at Braille, beating out all the competition in Florida at a regional challenge.

“It’s my way of communication and reading,” Silvio Plata said. “My life wouldn’t be the same without Braille.”

Now he’s punching keys to prepare for the Braille Challenge national finals this week in California, with a laser-like focus.

“All those other extra thoughts disappear, which is good ’cause I can focus on what I’m doing and a better chance of getting things right,” the high school freshman said.

Silvio hones his skills at Miami Lighthouse For the Blind, a private agency serving the needs of the blind and visually impaired.

Doctors believe Silvio was born with his sight, but as an infant they found cancer in both eyes.

“It got to the point where chemo wasn’t working or effective, so the only option was to remove my eyes, because the cancer was located there,” he said. “It would spread and I would’ve died.”

But Silvio never let his blindness hold him back.

He’s an passionate pianist – and budding opera singer.

He says the Miami Lighthouse has been crucial in showing him he can be independent.

“That time is coming when you’re going to graduate from high school and go into the real world,” Silvio said. “Here at the Miami Lighthouse … their goal is to help us become as independent as possible.”

“We are so proud of Silvio, he has everything that it takes to be very, very successful,” said Virginia Jacko, the CEO of Miami Lighthouse.

Silvio and his family are headed to the University of Southern California in this week for the Braille Challenge National finals. He’s also hoping they’ll have time to go to Disneyland.

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