Bulletin – March Quarter 2015 Australian Banknotes: Assisting People with Vision Impairment Abstract

A key function of the Reserve Bank is to design and produce banknotes that meet the needs of all sections of the community. The Bank has consulted a wide range of subject matter experts and stakeholders to ensure that the next generation of Australia's banknotes reflects Australia's cultural identity, is secure and remains functional. One aspect of functionality is that the banknotes are accessible to people with vision impairment. This article outlines the work the Bank has undertaken to meet the needs of the vision-impaired community, from the paper decimal banknote series that was issued in 1966 through to the forthcoming next generation series of banknotes.

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Australian Banknotes: Assisting People with Vision Impairment

The next generation of Australian banknotes is primarily about upgrading the security of our banknotes, but it is also an opportunity for us to be able to introduce further accessibility to our banknotes for people with a vision impairment. We've decided to put embossed bumps onto our banknotes to help people feel the difference between denominations on our next generation of banknotes in Australia.

This was a decision that we made with extensive consultation and a lot of research into the different features that we could have used and we ended up deciding on these embossed bumps as being the best way to go to help people with a vision impairment.

The embossed bumps on banknotes is something that not many other currencies have and the Reserve Bank is an early adopter of this technology. The Reserve Bank has been committed to providing accessible banknotes to the community for a long time and some of the features that we've had include different size denominations, colour contrasts and large numerals on our banknotes. The embossed bumps is an additional way that we can help people with a vision impairment tell the difference between their banknotes.

We've consulted extensively with many parts of the community as part of our next generation banknote program and that includes the companies that make the machines that dispense and accept cash so that our banknotes will continue to be available to everyone in the community. Counterfeiting levels in Australia are quite low, the next generation of Australian banknotes gives us an opportunity to help upgrade the security of our banknotes and make it even more difficult for counterfeiters to copy our banknotes.

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