January is National Braille Literacy Month. January is chosen since Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809. Louis Braille was, of course, the creator of the Braille writing code for the blind. Braille actually began devising the system during his teenage years. As a young blind man with a passion for music, he had a personal interest in both writing and sharing writings with others without sight. Braille taught at the National Institute for Blind Children in Paris where he attended as a child.
There have been a few coins produced worldwide with Braille, most somewhat recently. The U.S., Peru, India, Mexico, France, Italy and a few others have issued coins with Braille writing, most in commemoration of Louis Braille. However, these coins were not issued to help the visually impaired to distinguish among denominational coins. Blind people have less trouble with this task than those with 20/20 vision. The true purpose of the coins has been to raise awareness, literacy, and funding. Braille texts are far more labor intensive and expensive to produce than standard texts. And those who knew it enough to teach it to blind children were previously few and far between.
The 2009 U.S. Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar Coin carried with it a surcharge of $10. The additional money raised by its sale throughout the 2009 year was used to fund the National Federation of the Blind. The U.S. Mint also sold the coins as part of an educational package to help raise awareness. Approximately half of the authorized 400,000 coins minted were sold.
Trivia: The 2009 Louis Braille $1 Coin was the second U.S. coin minted with Braille writing as part of its design. Do you know which coin was the first?