Features to Assist People with a Vision Impairment
The Reserve Bank has developed a credit-card sized device that uses the length differentials to help distinguish banknotes. This CashTest Device is provided by Blind Citizens Australia free to those in need, with all production costs being met by the Reserve Bank. The toll free number for Blind Citizens Australia is 1800 033 660.
During the development of Australia's current polymer banknote series, the Reserve Bank consulted with representative groups about features that could be used by people with vision impairment to denominate their banknotes. From this consultation, it was concluded that banknotes with differential lengths, strong colours and large bold numerals would best assist the vision impaired community.
During the consultative phase for our existing banknote series, the Reserve Bank also considered whether a tactile marking should be included on the banknotes. While it was acknowledged that the tactile characteristics of the windows and the intaglio (raised) ink would provide some assistance to people with vision impairment, evidence indicated that other tactile features would wear in circulation and become less effective. For this reason, a tactile marking was not included on the current series of Australian banknotes.
In September 2012 the Reserve Bank announced plans to upgrade the security of Australia's current banknote series. A similar consultative approach is being followed as part of this Next Generation Banknote program. In addition to consulting with representative groups, the Reserve Bank is consulting with overseas central banks on their experiences and is assessing the efficacy and durability of some new printed and embossed tactile markings. A final decision on whether any additional features to assist the vision impaired community might be included on the new series has not yet been made. However, the Reserve Bank has made a commitment to provide, as a minimum, the same features present on our current banknotes – their size, colour palette and the large numerals – and will continue to support the production of the CashTest Device.