The U.S. Mint has unveiled a prototype of the first U.S. coin to feature readable Braille characters, the 2003 Alabama state quarter also featured Braille, but in small print.
This silver dollar coin will debut in 2009 and features Louis Braille, who invented Braille, on the head side of the coin. This silver dollar is celebrating Louise's 200th birthday. Despite a recent ruling that the U.S. has failed to adequately differentiate paper money for the blind, coins have a better track record with varying weights, shapes and other distinguishing features.
The new coin will come complete with a $10 charge, which will be directed to groups which benefit the blind. One of these programs is aimed at increasing the literacy rate in Braille of blind children and teenagers.
One has to wonder if this program is the best use of the $10 surcharge as electronic devices have led to alternatives to using Braille, which is regarded by some as a complicated system. This coin can honor Louis Braille and the advances he made for blind people, while still directing funds to programs which show the most promise in today's technological society.
While a spokesperson for the National Federation for the Blind believes that this coin will do a lot to call attention to those who are blind, I don't see this coin gaining much traction with anyone who isn't a collector or personally affected by lost sight. Unfortunately we have all seen the success, or lack thereof, of the Mint to introduce new dollar coins into regular usage over the past several years.
New Braille silver dollar: Feel the love...for $11