In a ceremony earlier today at the National Foundation for the Blind headquarters in Baltimore, US Mint Director Ed Moy and NFB President Marc Maurer introduced the nation’s first coin with readable braille. the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar.
“For the first time in history, the United States has a coin with readable Braille,” Director Moy told the audience. “The 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar honors the developer of Braille, a tactile code that has been instrumental in the literacy and independence of the world’s blind people.”
Authorized by Public Law 109-247 (GPO: [Text] [PDF]), the Mint is limited to issuing 400,000 coins. The $10 surcharge, a maximum of $4 million, will be paid to the NFB to promote braille literacy. The NFB reports that the money will be used in its Jernigan Institute and Braille Literacy Campaign to double the number of school-age children reading braille by 2015.
According the the NFB:
An astounding 90 percent of blind people today are Braille illiterate. This would be viewed as a national outrage if the same crisis faced sighted individuals, and yet blind people continue to be deprived of the Braille education and resources they need to obtain jobs, pursue stimulating careers, and enjoy the same opportunities as sighted individuals. Further, Braille illiteracy is the leading contributor to a shocking 70 percent unemployment rate among 1.3 million blind Americans and it’s only going to get worse—70,000 people are losing their sight each year.
To help fund Braille literacy programs, the NFB has teamed with the U.S. Mint to issue the first coin ever to feature readable Braille. The Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar will be launched this Thursday, March 26, 2009 at the NFB’s headquarters in Baltimore, MD, after which the coin will be available for purchase…. Every coin sold will support Braille education nationwide and ensure that every blind American enjoys the same opportunities for success as sighted individuals.
The National Federation of the Blind is also publishing a report to the nation, titled “THE BRAILLE LITERACY CRISIS IN AMERICA: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind.” The report, a comprehensive overview of the crisis and proposed solutions to reverse it, is currently under embargo until the launch day on March 26, when it will be posted online at www.nfb.org and www.braille.org.
I believe in supporting a good cause. If support also comes with a cool collectible, then it makes sense to buy. I hope this commemorative sells out!