Thursday, April 01, 2010

Review: State quarters - Alabama

I wanted this one to be good. So bad.

And initially I was going to give Alabama's quarter a "3 - Good" rating. I like that the designers picked one powerful image to focus on and gave all their attention to that, an image that no other state could lay claim to: Helen Keller, who apparently was from Alabama.

Keller is famous for overcoming a complete lack of language due to blindness and deafness -- and the attendant isolation from the world -- and then overcoming that challenge to become a prolific author and political activist. She was ultimately a socialist, but she is most remembered for learning how to connect with the world despite her disabilities.

The design is different, and I gave Alabama good marks for trying something off the beaten path. At first my only objections -- minor ones at that -- were to the lame "Spirit of Courage" ribbon and the tiny Braille dots. The Braille letters are really not needed, and it doesn't help that they are so small that you can't really see them when looking at a real quarter.

And I was about to leave it at that. But then the curious side in me took over, and I looked up the Braille alphabet to see what those letters spelled out. I suspected it was just Keller's name, but, man, was I disappointed!

As near as I can tell, after looking at a couple of Braille alphabets online, the message spells out this:

- H E L E
- K E L L [?]

Again, it's this:

- [yes, a hyphen] H E L E
- [yes, another hyphen] K E L L
[The last symbol is not a Braille letter. It could be a smashed E and an R that's missing a terminal dot, but I don't think it is.]

Oh. My. God. Alabama, you screwed up. It's horrible to mess up the Braille that badly, especially when it is so small you really cannot read it anyway! This shows an incredible lack of attention to detail, or, worse, a complete lack of concern for the accuracy of a writing system used by people with disabilities. Bad, bad, bad design element. And it took you from a "Good" rating to a "Bad" one.


Overall rating - 1 - Bad

Maine's coming.

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