[109th Congress Public Law 247]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

[DOCID: f:publ247.109]

[[Page 581]]


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Public Law 109-247
109th Congress

                                 An Act

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''.


    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.

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            (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 
        the system.
            (17) Braille did not become the official and sole method of 
        reading and writing for blind United States citizens until the 
        20th Century.
            (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.

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            (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.


    (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 
which shall--
            (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.


    (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 
                Pluribus Unum''.

    (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 
        Blind; and
            (2) reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

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    (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.


    (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.


    (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

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date of the enactment of this Act). The Secretary of the Treasury may 
issue guidance to carry out this subsection.

    Approved July 27, 2006.


            Feb. 28, considered and passed House.
            July 12, considered and passed Senate.