[nfb-talk] The Louis Braille Coin Celebration:

Kenneth Chrane kenneth.chrane at verizon.net
Mon Mar 9 13:14:00 UTC 2009

Launch Invitation

The launch of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar will take 
place on March 26, 2009, at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan 
Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

If you love Braille, want to learn more about it, or want to join us in our 
effort to bring awareness to the Braille literacy crisis, we urge you to 
attend this extraordinary event. It is not often that such a unique 
opportunity arises, and we hope that you will join us as we celebrate this 
defining moment in American history.

Festivities begin at 10:00 a.m. and will last until approximately 1:00 p.m. 
There will be activities for all ages, and the first opportunity to purchase 
the Louis Braille Coin will be available exclusively to those in attendance.

While seating is not limited, it is helpful for us to know how many people 
to expect. Please assist us in providing you with the best possible 
experience by filling out the event registration form at www.Braille.org. As 
details of the event are announced, your registration will ensure that you 
are the first to know.

Event address:

National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute

1800 Johnson Street

Baltimore, MD 21230

For more information please call 410-659-9314 x2230

U.S. Mint Information

The 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar commemorates the 200th 
anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, inventor of the Braille system, 
which is still used by the blind to read and write.

Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France, near Paris, on January 4, 1809. 
At the age of three, he lost the sight in his left eye as the result of an 
accident in his father's workshop. An infection spread to his right eye and 
he became completely blind by the age of four. At the age of 10, Braille 
received a scholarship to attend the Royal Institute for Blind Children in 
Paris, where he became the youngest student. At the school, most instruction 
was oral, but Braille read books for the blind, which had large letters 
embossed on the pages.

In 1821, a captain in Napoleon's army, Charles Barbier de la Serre, visited 
Braille's school and introduced a system he had invented called "night 
writing." This was a method for communicating on the battlefield at night 
without having to talk or light a match, which could alert the enemy. It 
consisted of 12 raised dots which could be combined to represent words by 
sounds rather than letters. Over the next few months, Braille experimented 
with different configurations until he found a simpler one using just six 

By the age of 15, using a blunt awl (the same type of tool that had injured 
his left eye 12 years earlier) to punch holes in paper to represent letters, 
Braille had developed the code that is essentially what we know today as 
modern Braille. It uses no more than six dots in a "cell" of two columns of 
up to three dots each to represent letters and contains a system of 
punctuation and "contractions" to speed reading and writing. It is read by 
passing the fingers over the raised dots.

Today, Braille has been adapted to almost every known language and is used 
everywhere from bus stops and maps to music notation and text books. In his 
native France, Louis Braille's achievement was recognized in 1952 - the 
100th anniversary of his death - when his body was moved to Paris and 
interred in the Pantheon.

Now, for the first time in history, a United States coin features readable 
Braille. It is available in both proof and uncirculated versions. The 
obverse (heads) features a portrait of Louis Braille designed by United 
States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Joel Iskowitz 
and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor/Engraver Phebe Hemphill. It is 
also inscribed with LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, LOUIS BRAILLE, 1809 and 2009.

The reverse (tails), showing a child reading a book in Braille, was designed 
by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble and sculpted by 
United States Mint Sculptor/Engraver Joseph Menna. The word Braille 
(abbreviated Brl in Braille code) is depicted in the upper field. The word 
INDEPENDENCE is featured on a bookshelf behind the child, in addition to the 

Surcharges from sales of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar 
are authorized to be paid to the National Federation of the Blind to further 
its programs to promote Braille literacy.

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