[accessibleimage] Re: proposes solutions to us currency access problem

  • From: "Lisa Yayla" <lisa.yayla@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 13:43:54 +0200

The solutions you wrote about sound very good.
I was thinking there might be also a transition stage - the time when old bills are still around before going over to accessible bills and
that there might be a way to make old bills accessible before they are taken out of circulation.
What if banks had embossing equipment so when ever an "old" bill comes in it is run through an embosser and a embossed mark
is placed on it?

accessibleimage@xxxxxxxxxxxxx skrev 27. mai 2008 kl. 09:26 +0000:
This issue is being debated among disability advocates from the two main
organizations of the blind, the American Council of the Blind and the
National Federation of the Blind.

I think it is very appropriate for tactile designers to also give it serious

Those who haven't been keeping up with these debates should be aware that
the majority of legally blind people in wealthy countries are older adults,
and I very much doubt
if most of them are members of any Blindness organization. Most teachers and
counselors I know of who work with older people who have lost vision as
adults are told again and again by the majority of these people that they
would love to once again be able to quickly identify their money on their
own, so as to maintain some degree of independence and dignity in stores, on
public transit, in taxis, and in restaurants, etc. Credit-debit cards can't
be used everywhere; for example, they can't be used on many public transit
bus systems. and some older people don't feel comfortable using them anyway.

Most people with low vision, and all blind people, are unable to
distinguish one denomination of American paper money from another. Blind
people must ask sighted people for help in order to count and sort their
bills. Some may be able to afford and feel comfortable with machines that
can identify the denominations and speak the values out loud. But, many
people, especially older people who have lost vision as adults,  cannot
afford to buy such machines, or they feel uncomfortable using them, and
these machines make many nervous in check-out lines, where they slow things
down a bit.

In the United States, visual impairment is the third most common chronic
condition, after arthritis and heart disease, among the elderly.

It is noteworthy that 17% of
adults aged 65 through 74 and 26% of those aged 75 and older have some form
of visual impairment (Lighthouse International, 2003).

We should also keep in mind that the United States is constantly replacing
worn-out currency.  Altering the size and design of denominations of bills
above the one-dollar bill would cost something like 5 percent of what the
government has spent on producing currency in the past decade.

The Treasury spent a considerable amount of money redesigning our currency
in 1996 and 2004. But, both times they basically ignored recommendations
presented by a 1995 National Academy of Sciences report that recommended
making changes that would facilitate identification of different
denominations by touch.

As a matter of fact, the United States had paper currency that varied in
size before 1929. It began producing all denominations of bills in the
same-size in 1929.  All other countries with paper currency vary the bills
in size according to denomination or include other features that help  all
people, sighted and nonsighted, in distinguishing between different
denominations of bills. Some add embossed dots, some have raised ink or
In Europe, for example, the Euro varies in size: the greater the value of
the bill, the greater the length. Each bill also has a raised number and
foil perceptible to touch, which not only helps those people who are blind
but is considered a security feature to prevent counterfeiting. In Japan,
the denominations each have a different geometric watermark shape in the
corner. Canadian bills have a different set of raised symbols. For example,
the $5 note has one raised symbol; the $10 note has two symbols.

Okay, tactile designers, let's work on some ideas for what the U.S. bills
could have!

Best regards,


----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Landau" <sl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 2008 4:51 PM
Subject: [accessibleimage] Re: proposes solutions to us currency access

yes, it will, indeed, be interesting to see this case go to the supreme
court, if it comes to that.  You are right, that if they just add braille,
or some other tactile marking to the existing paper money, that won't be
robust enough to last very long. I know that currency these days has a lot
of sophisticated anti-counterfeiting measures, such as watermarks, very tiny
printing in many colors, and a special thread that is somehow embedded in
the paper, and that you can't see unless you hold it up to a light source. I
am wondering if that thread could be modified to add some form of electronic
tagging that could be read through some low tech means. But I think it would
be best if the user did not need to own and carry another dedicated device
for reading bills.

On Sun, May 25, 2008 at 7:11 PM, Robert Jaquiss <rjaquiss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

>  Hello List:
>      It will certainly be interesting to see if the treasury appeals this
> ruling to the Supreme Court. For those outside of the U. S., the Treasury
> can appeal the currency ruling to the U. S. Supreme Court which is our
> highest court. Because of the large cost of redesigning the currency and
> the handling equipment, some people have advocated that the Treasury
> provide any blind person who wants one a talking currency identifier.
> are currently in the $250 range, but it is believed that if the government
> bought a million of them that the price would drop. I have also heard that
> embossed bills tend to flatten out erasing their markings. Perhaps a
> could be applied to bills, but I wonder if currency counters and other
> handling equipment would jam with the extra thick currency. One thing I am
> certain of is that there will be much discussion of this topic on the
> blindness related lists.
> Regards,
> Robert Jaquiss

steven landau
touch graphics, inc.
330 west 38 street suite 1204
new york, ny 10018
p. 800-884-2440
f. 646-452-4311
c. 646-515-3492

Lisa Yayla
Huseby Kompetansesenter
Oslo Norway

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