The 2009 Braille Silver DollarThe US mint honored Louis Braille this year with the Braille silver dollar -- the first US coin which will have Braille writing. The Braille dollar is another coin I would have to put in the ironic category. Here's why.
U.S. court of Appeals Rules that US paper money discriminates against the blindThe American Council for the Blind filed a lawsuit against the US Department of the Treasury. US paper money, they argued, discriminated against the visually impaired because all US bills are the same size and color. In 2006, US District Court ruled in favor of the visually impaired. The government appealed. In May, 2008, the US Court of Appeals ruled against the US government.
We can't make currency of different sizes!The government's position was to first argue that it could not be done. That's right -- we may be able to put a man on the moon, but cutting paper money to different sizes -- impossible. US District Judge, James Robertson pointed out that of the over 170 countries in the world that make paper money, the US is the only country that is unable to use different sizes or colors. The government pointed out that putting larger numerals on the bills would be too expensive -- citing a potential 4.5 million dollar cost (a little under two cents per citizen). Not sure why it would cost more to print larger numbers. Anyway, the money could be used for something more important -- like an appeal.
And now the Marie Antoinette awardAccording to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the blind do not need any changes to our paper money system because the blind can function adequately using credit cards.
And now the Braille dollarLouis Braille was born in 1809. The Braille dollar celebrates the 200th anniversary of his birth. Braille was blind by the time he reached age four. By age fifteen, he had invented a system of characters with raised dots now known as Braille. The obverse of the coin depicts a portrait of Braille while the reverse shows a child reading Braille.
But the big too-doo from the mint
The Braille dollar will be the first US coin to ever have Braille writing. The word braille will be written in Braille. Will the blind be able to read this coin? Although the mint usually encases commeorative coins in plastic, the mint is making a special plastic holder that can be easily removed. Proceeds from the sale of the Braille dollar will fund the National Federation of the Blind to further its programs to promote Braille literacy.