First Ever Braille U.S. Coin Promises Brighter Future for America’s Blind

<b>First Ever Braille U.S. Coin Promises Brighter Future for America’s Blind</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Each year, nearly 70,000 Americans become legally blind, according to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The real problem blind individuals face is not the loss of their eyesight, but the misconceptions and stereotypes that exist about their capabilities and about Braille.

Braille is the most effective and powerful tool ever invented for the blind to become educated, obtain jobs, pursue stimulating careers and enjoy the same opportunities and independence as sighted individuals. However, the Braille literacy rate among blind children today is only 10 percent.

“Literacy should be for all people, but it isn’t,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). “Illiteracy among the blind is on the rise, contributing to a shocking 70 percent unemployment rate among today’s 1.3 million blind Americans. This would be viewed as a national outrage if the same crisis faced sighted individuals, and yet blind people continue to be deprived of the Braille education and resources they need.”

In a recent report to the nation, “The Braille Literacy Crisis in America — Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind,” the NFB attributed the crisis to numerous factors, including false beliefs that Braille is “too complicated to learn” and that technological advances can substitute for Braille, limited access to quality instruction and the lack of standardized Braille teaching methods and credentialed instructors.

The NFB is determined to double the number of school-age children reading Braille by 2015.

“When the blind can read, the blind can achieve,” said Maurer. “To help us combat illiteracy, the U.S. Mint has issued a new commemorative coin with a special mission — the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. It’s the first U.S. coin in history to feature tactile, readable Braille, and it marks a turning point for blind people of all ages.”

Issued on March 26th in honor of the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the reading and writing code for the blind that bears his name, the coin symbolizes the most significant investment in literacy for the blind. Funds raised through the coin’s sale will support NFB’s “Braille Readers are Leaders” campaign, a national initiative to increase access to Braille instruction, advance new Braille reading and writing technology, expand Braille mentoring, and provide reading materials to tens of thousands of blind children and adults.

Only 400,000 coins have been minted, and they will not be available for purchase after Dec. 31, 2009. To order the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, visit www.usmint.gov or call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). For more information on the NFB and its national Braille literacy campaign, visit www.braille.org.

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