LOUIS BRAILLE BICENTENNIAL--BRAILLE LITERACY COMMEMORATIVE COIN ACT
[[Page 120 STAT. 582]]
Public Law 109-247
To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration
of Louis Braille. <<NOTE: July 27, 2006 - [H.R. 2872]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Louis Braille
Bicentennial--Braille Literacy Commemorative Coin Act.>>
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 31 USC 5112 note.>> SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Louis Braille Bicentennial--Braille
Literacy Commemorative Coin Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds as follows:
(1) Louis Braille, who invented the Braille method for
reading and writing by the blind that has allowed millions of
blind people to be literate participants in their societies, was
born in Coupvray, a small village near Paris, on January 4,
(2) Braille lost his sight at the age of three after
injuring himself with an awl in the shop of his father Rene, a
maker of harnesses and other objects of leather.
(3) A youth who was both intelligent and creative and was
blessed with dedicated parents, a thoughtful local priest and an
energetic local schoolteacher, Braille adapted to the situation
and attended local school with other youths of his age, an
unheard-of practice for a blind child of the period.
(4) At the age of 10, when his schooling otherwise would
have stopped, Braille--with the aid of the priest and
schoolteacher--was given a scholarship by a local nobleman and
went to Paris to attend the Royal Institute for Blind Children
where he became the youngest pupil.
(5) At the school, most instruction was oral but Braille
found there were books for the blind--large, expensive-to-
produce books in which the text was of large letters embossed
upon the page.
(6) Soon Braille had read all 14 books in the school, but
thirsted for more.
(7) A captain in Napoleon's army, Charles Barbier de la
Serre, had invented ``night writing'', a method for
communicating on the battlefield amidst the thick smoke of
combat or at night without lighting a match--which would aid
enemy gunners--that used dots and dashes that were felt and
interpreted with the fingers, and later adapted the method for
use by the blind, calling it Sonography because it represented
words by sounds, rather than spelling.
[[Page 120 STAT. 583]]
(8) Braille adopted the Sonography method instantly but soon
recognized that the basis in sound and the large number of
dots--as many as 12--used to represent words was too cumbersome.
(9) By the age of 15, and using a blunt awl, the same sort
of tool that had blinded him, Braille had developed what is
essentially modern Braille, a code that uses no more than 6 dots
in a ``cell'' of 2 columns of 3 dots each to represent each
letter and contains a system of punctuation and of
``contractions'' to speed writing and reading.
(10) In contrast to the bulky books consisting of large
embossed letters, Braille books can contain as many as 1000
characters or contractions on a standard 11-by-12-inch page of
heavy paper, and to this day Braille can be punched with an awl-
like ``stylus'' into paper held in a metal ``slate'' that is
very similar to the ones that Louis Braille adapted from
Barbier's original ``night writing'' devices.
(11) Also a talented organist who supported himself by
giving concerts, Braille went on to develop the Braille
representation of music and in 1829 published the first-ever
Braille book, a manual about how to read and write music.
(12) 8 years later, in 1837, Braille followed that
publication with another book detailing a system of
representation of mathematics.
(13) Braille's talents were quickly recognized, and at 17 he
was made the first blind apprentice teacher at the school, where
he taught algebra, grammar, music, and geography.
(14) He and two blind classmates, his friends who probably
were the first people to learn to read and write Braille, later
became the first three blind full professors at the school.
(15) However, despite the fact that many blind people
enthusiastically adopted the system of writing and reading,
there was great skepticism among sighted people about the real
usefulness of Braille's code, and even at the Royal Institute,
it was not taught until after his death on January 6, 1852.
(16) Braille did not start to spread widely until 1868 when
a group of British men--later to become known as the Royal
National Institute for the Blind--began publicizing and teaching
(17) Braille did not become the official and sole method of
reading and writing for blind United States citizens until the
(18) Helen Keller, a Braille reader of another generation,
said: ``Braille has been a most precious aid to me in many ways.
It made my going to college possible--it was the only method by
which I could take notes on lectures. All my examination papers
were copied for me in this system. I use Braille as a spider
uses its web--to catch thoughts that flit across my mind for
speeches, messages and manuscripts.''.
(19) While rapid technological advances in the 20th Century
have greatly aided the blind in many ways by speeding access to
information, each advance has seen a commensurate drop in the
teaching of Braille, to the point that only about 10 percent of
blind students today are taught the system.
(20) However, for the blind not to know Braille is in itself
a handicap, because literacy is the ability to read and the
ability to write and the ability to do the two interactively.
[[Page 120 STAT. 584]]
(21) The National Federation of the Blind, the Nation's
oldest membership organization consisting of blind members, has
been a champion of the Braille code, of Braille literacy for all
blind people and of the memory of Louis Braille, and continues
its Braille literacy efforts today through its divisions
emphasizing Braille literacy, emphasizing education of blind
children and emphasizing employment of the blind.
(22) Braille literacy aids the blind in taking responsible
and self-sufficient roles in society, such as employment: while
70 percent of the blind are unemployed, 85 percent of the
employed blind are Braille-literate.
SEC. 3. COIN SPECIFICATIONS.
(a) In General.--The Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this
Act referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall mint and issue not more than
400,000 $1 coins bearing the designs specified in section 4(a), each of
(1) weigh 26.73 grams;
(2) have a diameter of 1.500 inches; and
(3) contain 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.
(b) Legal Tender.--The coins minted under this Act shall be legal
tender, as provided in section 5103 of title 31, United States Code.
(c) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31,
United States Code, all coins minted under this Act shall be considered
to be numismatic items.
SEC. 4. DESIGN OF COINS.
(a) Design Requirements.--
(1) In general.--The design of the coins minted under this
Act shall be emblematic of the life and legacy of Louis Braille.
(2) Obverse.--The design on the obverse shall bear a
representation of the image of Louis Braille.
(3) Reverse.--The design on the reverse shall emphasize
Braille literacy and shall specifically include the word for
Braille in Braille code (the Braille capital sign and the
letters Brl) represented in a way that substantially complies
with section 3 of Specification 800 of the National Library
Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library
of Congress specifications for Braille, and is tactilely
indiscernible from printed or written Braille.
(4) Designation and inscriptions.--On each coin minted under
this Act there shall be--
(A) a designation of the value of the coin;
(B) an inscription of the year ``2009''; and
(C) inscriptions of the words ``Liberty'', ``In God
We Trust'', ``United States of America'', and ``E
(b) Selection.--The design for the coins minted under this Act shall
(1) selected by the Secretary after consultation with the
Commission of Fine Arts and the National Federation of the
(2) reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
[[Page 120 STAT. 585]]
SEC. 5. ISSUANCE OF COINS.
(a) Quality of Coins.--Coins minted under this Act shall be issued
in uncirculated and proof qualities.
(b) Mint Facility.--Only 1 facility of the United States Mint may be
used to strike any particular quality of the coins minted under this
(c) Period for Issuance.--The Secretary may issue coins minted under
this Act only during the 1-year period beginning on January 1, 2009.
SEC. 6. SALE OF COINS.
(a) Sale Price.--The coins issued under this Act shall be sold by
the Secretary at a price equal to the sum of--
(1) the face value of the coins;
(2) the surcharge provided in section 7(a) with respect to
such coins; and
(3) the cost of designing and issuing the coins (including
labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, overhead expenses,
marketing, and shipping).
(b) Bulk Sales.--The Secretary shall make bulk sales of the coins
issued under this Act at a reasonable discount.
(c) Prepaid Orders.--
(1) In general.--The Secretary shall accept prepaid orders
for the coins minted under this Act before the issuance of such
(2) Discount.--Sale prices with respect to prepaid orders
under paragraph (1) shall be at a reasonable discount.
SEC. 7. SURCHARGES.
(a) Surcharge Required.--All sales of coins under this Act shall
include a surcharge of $10 per coin.
(b) Distribution.--Subject to section 5134(f) of title 31, United
States Code, all surcharges which are received by the Secretary from the
sale of coins issued under this Act shall be promptly paid by the
Secretary to the National Federation of the Blind to further its
programs to promote Braille literacy.
(c) Audits.--The National Federation of the Blind shall be subject
to the audit requirements of section 5134(f)(2) of title 31, United
States Code, with regard to the amounts received by the National
Federation under subsection (b).
(d) Limitation.--Notwithstanding subsection (a), no surcharge may be
included with respect to the issuance under this Act of any coin during
a calendar year if, as of the time of such issuance, the issuance of
such coin would result in the number of commemorative coin programs
issued during such year to exceed the annual 2 commemorative coin
program issuance limitation under section 5112(m)(1) of title 31, United
States Code (as in effect on the
[[Page 120 STAT. 586]]
date of the enactment of this Act). The Secretary of the Treasury may
issue guidance to carry out this subsection.
Approved July 27, 2006.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 2872 (S. 2321):
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 152 (2006):
Feb. 28, considered and passed House.
July 12, considered and passed Senate.