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Bureau of Engraving and Printing Receives Study on Providing Access for the Blind and Visually Impaired

August 7, 2009

Release: Immediate
Contact: Nayyera Haq or Claudia Dickens
Date: August 7, 2009
Phone: Nayyera Haq: (202) 622-1960, Claudia Dickens: (202) 874-2778

Treasury Bureau Identifies Next Steps in Creating Meaningful Access to U.S. Currency for the Blind and Visually Impaired

As part of an effort to create meaningful access to currency for the blind and visually impaired, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) today announced the results of a study analyzing options to assist the blind and visually impaired in denominating U.S. currency. While no timetable has been set for redesigned currency, the next redesign will incorporate changes to make U.S. currency more accessible to those who are blind and visually impaired. “This study is the next step in providing meaningful access to currency for the blind and visually impaired,” said Larry R. Felix, Director of the BEP. “The information gathered in this study will be used to help establish a direction for the Department of the Treasury in providing access to U.S. currency for all cash users.” The results of the study are available at www.moneyfactory.gov. The study consisted of three phases:

  • Phase one – conducted data analysis and gathered information regarding the demographics of the blind and visually impaired community and their characteristics, opinions, and needs related to using currency.
  • Phase two – examined different technologies, features, and methods currently available, which could potentially improve access to U.S. currency.
  • Phase three – provided an economic cost-benefit analysis of different accommodation options that address the needs of persons who are blind and/or otherwise visually impaired. It examined the cost to the public and private sectors and the effectiveness of these potential solutions.

In the next step of the process, the BEP, with officials from the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve will deliberate on the study findings and formulate initial recommendations that will be published in the Federal Register. In publishing this initial recommendation, Treasury is seeking public comment and input on the changes that will be made to the U.S. currency.

The final recommendations will be presented to the Secretary of the Treasury, who has authority to determine the design of U.S. currency. The United States introduces new currency designs approximately every seven to ten years. As part of its mission, the BEP continues to work on new currency designs; however, no timetable has been established for the next series of redesigned currency. Earlier efforts by the U.S. government to improve the currency to help the public more readily identify denominations include design changes made in 1996 and in 2004 to feature larger, high-contrast numerals on the back of the notes and the inclusion of a machine-readable feature with the Series 1999 currency.