FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Celebrates Release of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar 

NFB Jernigan Institute Releases Report to the Nation on Braille Literacy Crisis

Baltimore, Maryland (March 26, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people and the leading advocate for Braille literacy, today celebrates the release of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. This historic commemorative coin, the first-ever U.S. coin to contain tactile, readable Braille, will be launched at a special ceremony at the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore beginning at 10:00 a.m. on March 26, 2009.

The NFB Jernigan Institute, the research and training arm of the National Federation of the Blind, will also release a report to the nation on the literacy crisis facing the blind in America. “The Braille Literacy Crisis in America: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind” describes the factors that have contributed to the shocking illiteracy rate of 90 percent among blind children and outlines steps to reverse this trend.

A portion of the money from sales of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, which was authorized by a law signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, will be used to support the NFB’s “Braille Readers are Leaders” campaign. The campaign is a national initiative created to double the number of blind children learning Braille by 2015.

Dr. 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 it 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.”

Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder, first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind and coordinator of the NFB’s national Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, said: “Braille is not being taught to many blind children and adults because there are myths and misconceptions surrounding the code. Braille is said to be slow and inefficient, difficult to learn, unnecessary in light of new technology, and something that isolates blind students from their sighted peers. But the blind know these myths to be false, and studies have shown that Braille leads to employment opportunities, independence, and self-confidence for blind people.”

The program celebrating the launch of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar will feature:

  • The presentation of the report
  • Remarks by Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind
  • Remarks by Dr. Abraham Nemeth, who invented the Braille code used for mathematics and scientific notation in the United States
  • Demonstrations by proficient Braille readers, including blind children
  • A message from United States Senator Christopher J. Dodd, chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the sponsor of the legislation authorizing the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar
  • Ed Moy, director of the United States Mint, who will give remarks and sign certificates of authenticity
  • A “Braille Fair” featuring fun activities for children and adults who want to learn about Braille

The National Federation of the Blind is asking the American public, through purchasing this stunning silver dollar, to join its campaign to bring literacy, education, opportunity, and success to the blind of America. The Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar goes on sale to the general public at noon today. Those interested in ordering a coin should visit www.usmint.gov or call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). For more information about the National Federation of the Blind and the Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, visit www.braille.org.