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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 30, July 25, 2010, Article 21

U.S. TREASURY SEEKS COMMENT ON PAPER MONEY CHANGES FOR THE BLIND

An ATM Industry publication had an article this week about the U.S. Treasury's plans for introducing features to help the blind distinguish different denominations of U.S. paper money. -Editor

The Federal Register has published for public comment changes to United States Federal Reserve Notes — U.S. paper currency — to make them accessible to the blind and the visually impaired, knowing that the alterations will financially affect some ATM, kiosk and self-checkout owners and operators.

"The purpose of this Federal Register notice is to inform the public of the features the Bureau of Engraving and Printing intends to propose to the Secretary of the Treasury to accommodate people who are blind and visually impaired and to solicit public comment on the proposed accommodation," the Federal Register wrote in the proposal titled, "Meaningful Access To United States Currency for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons."

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints Federal Reserve Notes, is proposing as part of the design a tactile feature that will be unique to every banknote, enabling users to identify each denomination through touch. The government agency also will continue with its current practice of adding high-contrast numerals and different and distinct color schemes to each denomination to assist the visually impaired.

In addition, the government agency proposes to loan and distribute currency readers to the blind and visually impaired. The reader would ameliorate difficulties stemming from the transition during the co-circulation of notes with and without a tactile feature and large, high-contrast numerals. "The transition will continue for many years, following introduction of tactile-enhanced note," the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said.

The bureau supports tactile features on currency, although some ATM industry officials have complained they may cause ATMs to jam or malfunction. The executives also claim tactile bumps will reduce the amount of currency ATM operators could deposit in the machines’ cassettes; therefore, they would have to keep a higher inventory of funds to ensure that a sufficient amount of cash is available at all times.

Despite ATM industry opposition to tactile banknotes, the bureau will recommend them to the Treasury Department because the blind and visually impaired find them accurate and easy to use. Federal officials, however, are concerned the tactile features quickly will wear out. But they plan to develop a much more durable raised figure that can be incorporated into the current manufacturing process.

The Treasury Department will accept until Aug. 18 comments on the proposed currency changes.

To read the complete article, see: Treasury considers changes to U.S. banknotes (www.selfserviceworld.com/article.php?id=24847)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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