Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009: 7. Louis Braille Coin

We're continuing our year-end look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2009. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon, Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog, and the Fred's Head Companion's Michael McCarty to help create our list. We'll present one item every day through New Year's day, when we'll reach number 1. Today, we focus on braille literacy.

In 2005, the Louis Braille Bicentennial-Braille Literacy Commemorative Coin Act was signed in to law, authorizing the minting of up to 400,000 one dollar coins, recognizing the 200th anniversary of the birth of the pioneer of the primary writing system for the blind. The coin boasts the honor of being the first with readable Braille on its face. A capital sign followed by the letters BRL, the contraction for the word Braille, are discernable by touch.

While the coin itself is a great momento to collect, it also serves as a reminder of the importance of braille literacy. Sadly, technology and audiobooks have served as replacements for braille in the eyes of many teachers, educators, and rehabilitation professionals. The braille book is often replaced with a digital file, leaving blind children without the capability of reading. This leads to a lack of knowledge about spelling punctuation and a much lower rate for employment, facts which have been proven on numerous occasions. Put aside that the coin idea was put forth by the National Federation of the Blind and that they will receive $10 from the sale of each coin. Those who are ashamed or annoyed by this fact probably either wish they would have thought of the idea first, or sadly are willing to put political affiliation before the overlying problem of braille literacy. We all should be joining together to support the proliferation of Braille materials, regardless of who is sponsoring the effort. If there ever was a cause which could unite the collective political motives of our blindness organizations, Braille literacy would be it. The coin was an excellent public relations piece and the funds from its sale will go along way to furthering the message of the importance of Braille. This gives us good reason to make the Louis Braille coin number 7 on our 2009 list.

View more of the Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009

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Displaying 2 comments.
Jeff.young Sunday, 27-Dec-2009 7:05 PM ET:

Whether the coin is a waste of time remains to be seen. If it gets the word out about braille literacy then I think it was worth. Knowone is suggesting you cary around several volumes of a book at once. That is why we have electronic braille displays. Yeah, their a lot, but if you want to read it's worth it.

darknexus Sunday, 27-Dec-2009 7:43 PM ET:

But we don't. How would electronic displays help ou read a diagram? They won't, not in the current single-line generation anyway. That's exactly what I was suggesting, an electronic display the size of a typical Braille page with internal storage. It still has to be affordable though which is the concession we will never get. Braille display technology doesn't cost anywhere near what we are actually charged for it, and I don't even want to think about what companies with the current mentality and mark-up would charge for a full-page unit. It has to be affordable or the battle is lost before it begins, and Braille will continue to be replaced by technology. Again, evolve or lose, and at the current prices Braille displays are a luxury not a necessity.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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