Paper Money

Australia to redesign notes to include tactile features

Reserve Bank of Australia officials announced Feb. 13, 2015, that the next generation of Australian bank notes will include a ‘tactile’ feature to assist people with a vision impairment.

Currently circulating notes feature bright colors and large and bold numbers, and are different lengths depending on denomination. The length is increasingly longer longer as the denomination increases in value – the $5 note is the shortest and the $100 note is the longest.

The unidentified additional tactile feature to be used in the next generation of notes will "further assist people with a vision impairment to tell the difference between denominations," according to the bank.

Production of the Cash Test Card, a device that allows blind or impaired consumers to determine a denomination, will continue to be supported by the bank. A description of the card and how it works is found at the Blind Citizens Australia website

The front of a Cash Test Card has the words Blind Citizens Australia written underneath the BCA logo. Below this are five horizontal lines of raised dots, and alternating on either side of the raised dotted lines are written the numbers five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred in Braille. A fold at the lower edge of the front of a Cash Test Card connects it to the back of the card.

The back side of the Cash Test Card is shorter and has a thumb hole for gripping a bank note.

An Australian note, slipped into the folded card and seated on end at the fold, can be firmly held in position via the thumb grip hole, while the other end of the note extends beyond the top of the folded card.

That "loose" end of the note is folded forward, over the top of the front of the card. The end of the note will extend down to one of the raised lines of dots on the front of the test card. The shortest note will reach the first line, indicating it is a $5 note, and the successive sizes of notes extend to their identifying lines, through to the fifth line of raised dots indicating a $100 note is in place.

The Cash Test Card is provided through Blind Citizens Australia by the Reserve Bank, and is currently available to people who are blind or vision impaired, at no cost.

However, the bank has decided to add a further tactile device, "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," according to the bank.

The testing and trial process for the next generation of bank notes, which will include the tactile feature, is ongoing. Designs have not yet been finalised, so details about the new designs, the release dates and how they will be issued are not yet available.

When determined, the information "will be released in a timely way, so that the public can be confident they understand how to recognise and use the new banknotes," according to the bank.


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