Indian Currency and its inaccessibility by the blind


Despite the difficulties faced by blind people, they have to adjust to the prevalent situations to survive. A number of simple and innovative remedies have been developed by people such as simply folding currency notes in a certain way to make them easy to distinguish or having easily distinguishable dividers in their wallets so they know what denomination they’re taking out.

Technology has also taken a big leap and through the cheap availability of smart-phones and other electronic gadgets compiled with an advance in recognition technology, some blind now find it easier to distinguish between the different currency notes but that technology is still not widely used in India. The Bank of Canada provides free e-readers to its blind patrons that can quickly determine the denomination that is being scanned. As far as the general populous of India is concerned, there is no remedy available to them which can enable them to distinguish between currency notes.

There has also been an outcry regarding access of ATMs to blind people. While some banks have taken initiative and enabled Talkback features and headset support, most ATMs lack even Braille symbols on their buttons; even worse are the ATMs that have only touchscreen support without any voice feedback.

We would now like to draw attention to an article published in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ review in the September/October 2007 issue. The Paper reiterates the features of a perfect currency that have been laid down by a Committee of the Next-Generation Currency Design which are:-

  1. Extremely Difficult to Duplicate
  2. Easily recognized by the General Public
  3. Durable (remains visible after considerable wear)
  4. Can be Machine-Readable
  5. Easy to Produce at Low Cost
  6. Acceptable to the public

The report also emphasized the importance of providing accessibility of currency to visually impaired people through making the devices machine readable and easily identifiable via a system of dots. The most obvious distinction that can be made is that of sizes and texture. Any currency that varies in size and feel can be easily identified simply by holding or touching it.

About the Author

Nishant Gambhir
Nishant is the founder of Lex Do It a legal awareness and public advocacy social enterprise. Nishant is a lawyer by qualification but an activist by practice.

Did you enjoy this story?

Subscribe now to get the latest updates straight in your inbox. No spam, we promise.

Continue Reading