Several months after the unveiling of a new high-tech $100 US bill (set to be released into circulation in February 2011), the US Treasury is considering making changes to all banknotes, and has asked for public comment on their intent to do so.
The changes have very little to do with the actual security of the banknotes, but more to do with the feel and texture of the banknotes. The proposed changes would make US notes more accessible to the blind and visually impaired by altering banknote design to include tactile bumps – raised portions of the banknote smaller than Braille.
In their proposal titled “Meaningful Access To The United States Currency for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons,” the Federal Register said the tactile feature would be unique to every banknote, allowing currency users to identify each denomination by touch. The Federal Register also said they would “continue the practice of adding high-contrast numerals and different and distinct colour schemes to each denomination to assist the visually impaired.”
Not everyone is happy with the proposed changes, however.
In an article published for ATM Marketplace, editor Frederick Lowe says that while the ATM industry supports tactile features on currency, some officials have complained they may cause ATMs to jam or malfunction. Moreover, because the tactile features will cause the banknotes to be thicker, this would reduce the number of banknotes that can be loaded into ATMs at any given time.
Other federal officials are worried the tactile features could wear out quickly, and are recommending the raised portions be made in a more durable fashion.
Recently, a new Scottish banknote series that prominently featured specially designed tactile enhancements for the blind and visually impaired won the award for Best New Banknote at the International Association of Currency Affairs (IACA) Excellence In Currency Awards.