Philately for the Blind

By Sergio Marques da Silva

During a philatelic show at Mackenzie College in celebration of the France-Brazil Year 2009, some blind people who visited the exhibition showed great interest. They entered with assistance—it could not be otherwise, as they needed help understanding what was being shown. Touched by the situation, I had the idea of making a collection aimed at people with visual impairments. This collection would be placed on a panel with no protective acrylic cover so a blind person could, by feel, "touch" the stamps and various pieces written in Braille (the writing system for the blind created by Louis Braille in France in the year 1825).

I gathered all the items I had in my collection that were written in Braille, including stamps, letters, and notices. I added pieces with graphic effects issued in Brazil and also pieces that I bought at Lubrapex 2009 held in Portugal. I combined all these diverse items because they had parts written in Braille and also other features that could help a blind person identify certain stamps. I used stamps with the aroma of coffee, perfume, Brazilian stamps that were embossed, as well as Portuguese cards with the aroma and taste of chocolate and ice cream. I even used one that has a file (tool printed on the stamp representing an iron filing file) whereby passing a fingernail the blind can feel and hear the friction of the finger with the stamp. These stamps were printed by the Post Office in Portugal, with high tech graphics in a series called "Stamps and the Senses." I used stamps made with "cork,” which by touch and smell one can detect the material used in manufacturing. I also included in the collection French stamps with the aroma of chocolate.

Finally, I mounted 16 pages, completing a standard exhibition panel. When it is exhibited I ask that acrylic protection not be placed in front of the panel.

Assembling my collection in this way opens new avenues for visually impaired people to participate and learn about Braille stamps and to experience the philately that gives us so much pleasure and culture. Over time this collection will be expanded with two or three more panels.

This will be an itinerant collection and will participate in postal exhibitions and will also do solo shows, where I will take a panel made solely for this purpose. Initially this collection was shown in SPP-Philatélica Paulista Society. It is also scheduled to be exhibited in Mogi das Cruzes, Campos do Jordao, Guaruja, Juquitiba and other cities. Soon it will be exhibited in the St. Paul Library, the Youth Park and also at Mackenzie College, where everything started.

I'm making contact with various institutions for the blind to schedule lectures and to leave the panel and collection with them for a period of time.

Once again a Brazilian innovated in the field of philately. Until now there was no place in the world where the blind could participate in a philatelic exhibition. Now with this collection written in Braille and the panel without a protective acrylic cover, the blind will also be able to participate in the wonderful world of philately.

Frame 1          
Picture of "Five Senses" stamp from Portugal
            Frame 2
1974 souvenir sheet from Brazil with Braille
Frame 3         
1979 Brazil souvenir sheet and stamp with Braille
            Frame 4
Picture of French stamp with aroma of chocolate
Frame 5         
Picture of Brazilian stamps with burnt aroma


Sergio Marques da Silva (66) is President of the Brazilian Association of Philatelic Journalists (ABRAJOF), Vice-President of the Sociedade Paulista Philatelica (SPP), the Secretary and Jury of the Brazilian Federation of Philately (FEBRAF), and a member of the Brazil Philatelic Association.  Email:

Reproduced with the permission of the author.