A Token Gesture to the Blind

Last week, a friend called to tell me that he had just seen a commercial for the commemorative Louis Braille silver dollar coins. Immediately, I saw it as a literal token gesture. If they really want to help the blind, why don’t they mark currency so we can identify it by touch?

The coins crack me up. They have the standard symbols and sayings as American currency. On one side, it has a portrait of Louis Braille, the inventor of braille, the system that a decreasing amount of blind people use to read by touch. On the other side, the coin has a picture of a boy with a bookcase of braille books behind him.

Now for the life irony: The coin has the letters “brl”, the contraction for braille, embossed in braille on it. Grade II braille has 189 contractions to shorten the amount of characters in this already bulky medium. “brl” stands for braille, any American braille reader would know this. Embossing “brl” on the coin just makes me laugh, sort of like the story I’ve told here before where the hotel had “NO SMOKING!” signs outside of each room. Why not write “Print” in print on it? They should emboss “$1” that seems much more practical.

If they really want to help the blind deal with money, they should emboss or mark the currency, as they do in Europe. Some currency has actual braille on it, and other currency has special markings. I actually like this solution more than standard braille, because the markings don’t ware down as easily, and it requires less special equipment and overhead, which means less excuses from sighted bureaucrats. If Europe can do it, certainly America can! Stop giving us these token gestures! Do something real!