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Banknotes for Vision Impaired


Tuesday, 17th February 2015 at 10:25 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist
The Reserve Bank has announced that the next generation of Australian banknotes will include a “tactile” feature to assist people with a vision impairment following extensive consultation with Vision Australia.

Tuesday, 17th February 2015
at 10:25 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist


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Banknotes for Vision Impaired
Tuesday, 17th February 2015 at 10:25 am

The Reserve Bank has announced that the next generation of Australian banknotes will include a “tactile” feature to assist people with a vision impairment following extensive consultation with Vision Australia.

The Reserve Bank says the addition of the feature will further assist people with a vision impairment to tell the difference between denominations.

It comes after a recent survey by Vision Australia found that almost half of totally blind respondents felt they were being short changed on occasion. The same survey found 61 per cent of respondents with severe to total blindness had trouble differentiating between banknotes.

The current features include bright colours, large and bold numbers and different sizes for each denomination which will be maintained on the new series, Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens said.

“The Bank will also continue to fund the production of the ‘cash test card’,” Stevens said.

“This decision is the culmination of extensive research by the Bank into whether an effective and durable tactile marking could be included on Australian banknotes. This included consultation with the vision impaired community, other stakeholders and overseas central banks.

“The testing and trialling process for the next generation of banknotes is ongoing and designs have not yet been finalised. Details about the new designs, the release dates and how they will be issued will be released in a timely way, so that the public can be confident they understand how to recognise and use the new banknotes.”

Vision Australia said the tactile feature would assist people who are blind or have low vision to differentiate between different denominations.                                         

General Manager of Advocacy and Engagement at Vision Australia, Maryanne Diamond AO, said the announcement from the RBA was a significant step that would have a measurable impact on the independence and confidence of the 350,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision.

“All members of the community should be able to simply differentiate notes by touch, without using additional devices or asking others for assistance,” she said.

“We have led the campaign for tactile features on banknotes for many years. Countless submissions have been made to the RBA and the Federal Government by generations of advocates, so it’s pleasing to hear the commitment to tactile features made today.”

In addition to this ongoing advocacy role, Vision Australia recently joined 12 year old Connor McLeod’s complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Connor, who is blind had already started a change.org petition with more than 56,000 supporters calling for action on accessibility features.

“This is a great outcome for Connor, and he should be very proud of the significant result his efforts have contributed to,” Diamond said.

Around 100 Vision Australia clients were involved in consultations and research undertaken by the RBA late last year, the results of which supported the need for tactile features.

Vision Australia said it welcomed the consultative approach taken by the RBA in assessing the needs of the blindness and low vision community and looked forward to learning further details about the tactile feature due to be included in the next generation of banknotes as they are announced in the coming months.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.


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