Tom Babinszki's Blog

26 Aug 2015

Coin Descriptions for Blind People

Coins | Tom Babinszki

This month at the World's Fair of Money I introduced a breakthrough project which would make numismatics much more available to blind people.

When you cannot see what is on a coin, it is relatively difficult to find this information in a textual or narrative format. In the case of certain coins it is easier, but there is hardly any information out there about less popular coins, and any information mostly exists in local languages.

Why is this important? There are coin collectors who are either completely blind or have limited vision and they would like to know more about their coins. While blind people are able to recognize their own currency by touch, there is limited information out there for them to learn about either their own nations' coins, or about foreign coins.

When somebody is able to see a coin, detailed information is often not necessary, unless something needs to be described in a cultural or historical context. It makes more sense just to look at the actual coin or a photo.

The coin catalogs also contain very little information.

Let's look at the example of the Kennedy Half Dollar. By touch, one can tell that there is some kind of a bird on the coin. However, a blind person who is not exposed to two dimensional objects of birds on a regular basis, may have more difficulty recognizing it.

Numista contains the following information:

"State emblem (eagle with shield), ring of stars"

The following description, however, makes a coin more imaginable:

In the center is the presidential seal: A bald eagle with wings aloft and outspread legs, one set of talons holding an olive branch and one set holding a bundle of thirteen arrows (denoting the powers of peace and war). In front of his torso is a shield. Behind the eagle is a background of sun rays, with thirteen clouds across the top and thirteen stars below them (depicting the original 13 states). In its mouth, the eagle is clutching a banner that floats over its head and which reads “E PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning: “Out of many, one”). This entire insignia is surrounded by a ring of 50 stars (one for each US state). Outside this ring of stars is written at the top of the coin “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and at the bottom of the coin “HALF DOLLAR”.

I would like to have as many coins as possible described this extensively for blind people.

Therefore, I have built a web site which hosts the description of different objects, including coins. Originally I was going to concentrate on coins only, but I have received much feedback suggesting that in the same manner, buildings, animals, logos, and many other types of objects could be described which are otherwise impossible to touch.

So far almost a hundred coins are described, but to make this site globally usable and enjoyable, at least a good sample of current circulation coinage would be necessary. I am looking for volunteers who would be willing to describe some of their favorite coins and make this information available to blind people.

My intention wasn't to replicate a coin catalog, since many exist already. Rather, to provide information which is missing from the catalogs for obvious reasons, but would be essential to blind people. Those who would like to find more information about an individual coin will have a link on each page to Numista where they can find the related catalog item. I have chosen Numista because it is free, and is very accessible with different screen readers.

This web site is also intended to be free to enhance the education of blind people, and potentially get more visually impaired people interested in numismatics.

Please help me to make this project a reality. I would like to ask you to share this idea with others, or to describe some coins for posting on the site.

The web site can be found at:


For more information, you can contact me at:
Tom at BlindCoinCollector dot com


Very cool!

Pliny The Elder

Level 5

I surely can help in some way. I will contact you.


Level 5

I think this is a great idea, but I do not want to help. Sorry


Level 5


Tom Babinszki

Level 2

Thank you for the kind responses, I'll contact you privately.


Level 5

That is really cool! I hope the website thrives. I'll be happy to help if I can.


Level 6

I would love to help out. My wives grandma developed macula degeneration and was a HUGE user of books on tape from The Braille Institute. Anything I can do to help out this Huge chunk of our population would be fantastic. I believe I read somewhere that the BEP was coming out with some kind of Braille on our currency. About time! I'll be talking to you. Thanks!!


Level 5

Awesome project. I hope this web site gets used by its intended audience. I am currently in the process of moving but when all done I would like to help out with the descriptions. As you can see from my user name World Coins are my specialty.

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