Braille Commemorative Coin to Launch into Space with Atlantis

by on May 8, 2009 · 2 comments

Proof Louis Braille Silver Dollar CoinTwo 2009 Louis Braille Silver Dollars will launch into space on Monday, May 11, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announced Thursday.

The coin, which commemorates the 200th birthday and the life and work of Louis Braille, will liftoff aboard space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-125 mission to service NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NFB, said the bicentennial silver dollar "symbolizes the power of knowledge and future opportunities for blind children across America," and that it was fitting for it to "be part of a mission to uncover the secrets of the universe."

Dr. Joyce Winterton, the Assistant Administrator for NASA Education, who was present at the Braille dollar release ceremony, reaffirmed Maurer’s comments, and added:


"NASA believes strongly in the importance of educational opportunities for everyone. That is why we have partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to help create programs that enhance scientific study for blind youth. Launching the first coin to contain tactile, readable Braille into space symbolizes NASA’s commitment to the spread of knowledge by every means and to every individual."


Three other coins — the Alabama state quarter and 1995 and 1996 Paralympic Silver Dollars — also had Braille, but were too small for the visually impaired to read.

Demand for Braille commemorative coins has been strong. The latest US Mint silver coin sales show a total of 145,308 of the available 400,000 have been sold since their release in late March.

NFB has been active in promoting Braille dollars to the public, to include a commercial explaining how they benefit the blind. A $10 surcharges from the sale of each coin is paid to NFB to further its programs to promote Braille literacy.

The commemorative coins may be ordered on the following US Mint pages:

Louis Braille Bicentennial Proof Silver Dollar – $41.95

Louis Braille Bicentennial Uncirculated Silver Dollar – $33.95

Braille Uncirculated Silver Dollar in Easy-Open Capsule – $33.95

The US Mint also accepts orders at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers may order by calling 1-888-321-MINT (6468).

Once launched, the Braille commemorative coin will join the ranks of the gold Sacagawea Space Dollars, which blasted off in 1999 on NASA Mission STS-93 to carry the Chandra X-ray Observatory – one of NASA’s four Great Observatories, like the Hubble Telescope.

In that instance, the US Mint struck proof, 22-karate Sacagawea coins for the journey to help promote the Sacagawea golden dollar release into circulation.

Details for which Louis Braille dollar — the proof or uncirculated version — will get sent on mission STS-125 has yet to be provided.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna W. Hill May 9, 2009 at 11:49 am

Thank you for posting this. The reason the coin exists and that the NFB is promoting it so heavily is that America is in the midst of a Braille literacy crisis. Only 10% of America’s blind kids (down from 50% in the ’60s) are taught to read & write Braille, still the only tool offering true literacy to blind people on a par with print. It affects all of us , because it results in lower employment of blind adults & the need for tax-payer support of intelligent and willing people. Seventy percent of working-age, blind adults are unemployed. Of the thirty percent who work, ninety percent read Braille.

Congress recognized this problem and authorized the minting of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. The coin supports the Braille Readers are Leaders” campaign of the National Federation of the Blind, which seeks to double the number of blind kids learning Braille by 2015.

Unfortunately, there have only been a handful of articles nationwide and the public doesn’t understand yet how bad things really are.

If anyone has any tips on getting articles posted elsewhere, please contact me through the form at:

John Greer June 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

I am just wondering how much money the NFB spent lobbying for NASA to do this? Could the money not been better spent training teachers to teach braille?

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