One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a blind person is how do you identify your money? Since US paper currency is printed with the same color ink and each denomination has the same shape and texture it is very difficult to determine differences. This challenge reduces the level of financial independence for those with vision loss. It also creates opportunities to be taken advantage of by dishonest people.
For a long time now people who are blind and/or visually impaired have had to find a variety of ways to identify their paper printed money. Some have depended on trustworthy sighted people to help determine their one dollar bills from their fives, tens or twenties. Others have used accessible wallets with multiple slots to place each denomination in. or they might use a device such as a
hand-held bill reader for identification. Yet, more recently others have used accessible apps on their iPhone or smartphone to scan and read their cash.
But just last month the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing announced that they would be providing free bill readers to those with vision loss. This is great news because it will allow the visually impaired to be more financially independent and have equal access to their paper money. The BEP will process requests in two phases:
The first phase will be a pilot starting on September 2, 2014 in collaboration with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). All library patrons can pre-order their readers. This will allow BEAP to test its ordering and distribution processes and better gauge demand.
The second phase will be a national rollout. Any US citizen who is blind or visually impaired will be able to order a bill reader beginning January 2, 2015. Individuals who are not NLS patrons must submit an application, signed by a competent authority who can certify visual impairment.
If you are interested in applying for a currency reader device or learning more about BEP’s access program go to this link: http://www.bep.gov/uscurrencyreaderpgm.html