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Published:March 26th, 2009 16:03 EST
First Braille Coin Goes On Sale Today

First Braille Coin Goes On Sale Today

By Robert Paul Reyes


"The U.S. Mint will begin accepting orders Thursday for the first coin to feature readable Braille.

The 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar commemorates the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, inventor of the Braille system of reading and writing used by the blind." CNN.Com

My initial reaction to this CNN article was "this is great", but upon doing research on the subject I was astonished to discover that there`s a Braille illiteracy problem in America. I thought that almost every blind person could read Braille, but the vast majority of the blind can`t read Braille!

"In 1968 (the first year for which accurate data are available), 44 percent of all blind children across America could use Braille. Although it is pure speculation on my part, I suspect that the percentage in the 1930`s and 1940`s (before large print came along) would have been much nearer to 100 percent.

In any event, by 1996 the percentage had dropped from the outrageously low 44 percent in 1968 to a devastating 9 percent -- a national disgrace, a tragedy, a crisis!"

I realize that the visually impaired have access to speech recognition software and other advanced technologies, but it`s still imperative that the blind know how to read Braille.

Reading opens an individual`s eyes to many new worlds and ideas, someone who can`t read is at a distinct disadvantage in life. The blind are already at a tremendous disadvantage, they simply can`t afford to be Braille illiterate.

Some of the proceeds from the sale of these coins will go to the National Federation of the Blind program to promote Braille literacy. We should all get behind this noble effort, by purchasing some of these coins.

More information is available at the U.S. Mint`s web site or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT