Helen Keller on Alabama's Quarter
 
By JAY REEVES
.c The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Helen Keller beat out a moon rocket, a Cherokee chief
and other symbols for a spot on Alabama's state quarter, which will be the
first U.S. coin in circulation to include Braille.

The design unveiled Monday by Gov. Don Siegelman includes an image of Keller
- an Alabama native who overcame blindness and deafness to become a writer
and educator - reading a book in Braille.

Keller's name will appear on the coin in both English and Braille, which has
not previously been used on a U.S. coin in everyday use.

The quarter, which will include the slogan ``Spirit of Courage,'' is intended
to draw attention to education.

``I think it is fantastic,'' said Bill Johnson, a great nephew of Keller, who
grew up in Tuscumbia. ``She was an amazing person.''

The U.S. Mint said it will make more than 650 million of the quarters, which
will go into circulation in March.

Schoolchildren submitted designs for the Alabama quarter, including a moon
rocket or a space shuttle, to signify the state's contribution to the space
program; Cherokee alphabet developer Sequoyah; and a Yellowhammer, the state
bird.

Several students suggested a Keller coin, and a relative submitted a photo of
her seated in a chair, reading, for the quarter. The governor picked Keller.

Born in 1880, Keller lost her sight and hearing to meningitis when she was 1
1/2 years old. With help from teacher Anne Sullivan, she learned to
communicate with her hands and graduated from Radcliffe College. She died in
1968. Her life and Sullivan's struggle to help her were depicted in the play
and movie ``The Miracle Worker.''

The Keller coin will be the 22nd quarter issued in the Mint's state quarters
program, a 10-year project to salute all 50 states. Alabama was the 22nd
state admitted to the Union.

The only U.S. coin to previously include Braille was an Olympic commemorative
coin produced on a limited basis in the mid-'90s, said Mint spokesman Michael
White.
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