The following article appeared the Deseret Morning News on April 6, 2009
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, on Monday was given a Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar by the National Federation of the Blind of Utah to thank Bennett for co-sponsoring legislation that made production of the coin possible.
It is the first U.S. coin to contain tactile, readable braille (some earlier coins honoring Helen Keller and the Paralympics had braille, but it was too small to be felt and read). The reverse of the coin shows a child reading braille, with the word "Braille" written in that language appearing above it.
The coins will not be in general circulation but are being sold by the U.S. Mint to help raise money for programs that teach reading in Braille.
Louis Braille was born in Paris in 1809. At age 3, he lost the sight in one eye because of an accident with an awl in his father's workshop. An infection spread to the other eye and left him completely blind at age 4. By age 15 he used a blunt awl (the same type of tool that took his eyesight) to punch holes in paper to represent letters.
The tactile language he developed has been adapted to almost every known language and is used everywhere from bus stops and maps to music notation and textbooks.
Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said, "If the blind can read, the blind can achieve. The Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar celebrates the man who gave literacy to the blind and is a unique and beautiful keepsake but is also a coin with a mission: to make sure that every blind child and every adult losing vision in our nation has the opportunity to learn braille."
Ron Gardner, left, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Utah, smiles as Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, shakes hands with Sachin Pavithran after the two men gave Bennett a newly minted Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar at Bennett's office in downtown Salt Lake City on Monday.
A newly minted Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. It is the first coin to contain readable braille. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)