Release Date: 
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Chris Danielsen
Public Relations Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Over One Thousand Blind Americans to March in Dallas

First United States Coin with Tactile Brailleto be Unveiled by Director of United States Mint

Baltimore, Maryland (June 18, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest organization of the blind in the United States, will hold its second March for Independence on July 2, in Dallas, Texas.  The March for Independence–A Walk for Opportunity is a 5K walk to increase public awareness of the true capabilities of blind people and raise critically needed funds for the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind.  Over one thousand blind Americans, their friends and families, and other supporters will march from the Hilton Anatole Hotel–headquarters for the 2008 convention of the National Federation of the Blind–to AT&T Plaza at American Airlines Center, where a special ceremony and rally will take place. 

Highlights of the rally will include addresses by NFB President Dr. Marc Maurer and Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32), the honorary chairman of the March for Independence.  The rally will close with United States Mint Director Ed Moy unveiling the design of a commemorative coin to be issued in 2009 by the Mint in honor of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.  Following the rally, the participants will return to the Hilton Anatole Hotel, where President Maurer will sound his gavel to bring the convention to order for its opening session.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “It is fitting that the unveiling of the design of the Braille commemorative coin will take place as part of our March for Independence–A Walk for Opportunity.  The March for Independence is our way of demonstrating to the public that we are equal participants in society and that we are determined to make for ourselves a future full of opportunity.   No tool available to the blind opens more doors to opportunity than the ability to read and write Braille.”

Mark Riccobono, executive director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, said: “Braille is the key to literacy for the blind.  Its centrality to success in education, employment, and independence for blind Americans has been demonstrated time and time again since its invention, but a combination of factors has led to a decline in its use in the United States.  Only 10 percent of blind children in the United States today learn to read and write Braille.  Such a low literacy rate would never be accepted among sighted children and it should not be acceptable for the blind.  The National Federation of the Blind intends to reverse this trend and restore Braille to its proper place at the center of education and opportunity for the blind.”

United States Mint Director Ed Moy said, "The United States Mint is proud to present the 2009 Louis Braille Commemorative Silver Dollar coin design.  It will be the first coin ever minted in the history of the United States to contain legible Braille characters.  I am looking forward to presenting the design for this historic coin, and I am pleased that the United States Mint is playing a role in the cause of bringing literacy to all blind and visually impaired Americans."

In 2006, Congress passed and the President signed into law Public Law 109-247:  The Louis Braille Bicentennial–Braille Literacy Commemorative Coin Act.  This legislation authorized the minting of a commemorative coin in 2009 to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.  The Congress recognized in the legislation that: “The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s oldest membership organization consisting of blind members, [is] a champion of the Braille code, of Braille literacy for all blind people and of the memory of Louis Braille.”