Last November, the central bank of India introduced the new Rs 500 and 2000 banknotes, notably designed to facilitate the daily life of the visually impaired. In compliance with the standards of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, these new banknotes have completely different sizes, a hallmark feature that allows blind people to distinguish between the different denominations.
Moreover, mobile apps such as LookTel and EyeNote help people with visual disabilities to identify the notes instantly with their smartphone. LookTel recognises 21 currencies from all continents including the Indian rupee while EyeNote was designed for the US dollar. Nevertheless, only 50 ATMs over the 200,000 installed in India are accessible to people with disabilities, representing a form of financial exclusion. The Government is expected to take further initiatives to address the situation once the 2014 Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill is enacted.
Numerous central banks worldwide have already taken measures to help the visually impaired, notably by introducing notes with different sizes, strong colours or additional raised tactile features printed in intaglio. For example, Australia and Sweden use bright colours and different sizes, while Japan, Canada and Switzerland added a tactile feature. Hong Kong’s notes are among the most easy to identify as they contain all three characteristics.
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