January 5, 2006.
New Zealand Herald - New Zealand.
Braille has been used for the first time on a New Zealand stamp as part of a series honouring the contribution of dogs to society.
On the Chinese Zodiac this is the year of the dog, and the series of stamps aims to recognise how dogs contribute to our daily lives.
The 45c stamp depicts a labrador retriever, widely used as a guide dog for the blind, with "45" spelt out in braille.
The series was released yesterday, on the birthday of Louis Braille, the French boy who invented the series of dots representing the alphabet now known as braille.
New Zealand Post communications specialist Lucy Jackson said because the stamp showed a guide dog, New Zealand Post decided to include braille on the stamp.
It is the first time braille has been used on a New Zealand stamp but Ms Jackson said there were no plans to introduce it permanently and it had not been used on the other stamps in the series.
"The braille is more symbol than practical," she said.
Stamp paper was too soft and lightweight to effectively hold the dots used in braille.
Ms Jackson said New Zealand Post had worked with the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind to make sure the braille on the stamp read correctly.
The foundation's community education awareness manager, Chris Orr, said the body was pushing to have braille used more publicly on signs in places like toilets or aircraft.
"It's often looked upon as a bit of a mystery. We want to get it out more publicly," Mr Orr said.
He said to have a big organisation like New Zealand Post use braille on a stamp helped the cause.
"It's simply fantastic, it's something that's mainstream."
Stamps general manager Ivor Masters said New Zealand Post had included the stamp to acknowledge the the crucial work of New Zealand's guide dogs.
"From supporting the visually-impaired to herding sheep, to providing friendship and fun, dogs play an essential role in helping New Zealand communities function effectively," Mr Masters said.
The other stamps in the series include the 90 cent stamp, which shows a german shepherd, a jack russell terrier on the $1.35 stamp, a golden retriever on the $1.50 stamp and - while it is not recognised as an official breed by many kennel clubs - a huntaway on the $2 stamp.
Source URL: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10362464.
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