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U.S. Department of Education Announces New App to Identify U.S. Currency - U.S. Treasurer Applauds Department of Education’s Accessibility Effort

October 9, 2012

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy Muzzio (202) 245-7458, Darlene Anderson (202) 874-2229

(Washington, D.C. – Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012) The U.S. Department of Education announced today the launch of the “IDEAL Currency Identifier,” a free downloadable application (app) to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired to denominate U.S. currency on some mobile devices.

The IDEAL Currency Identifier was developed by IDEAL Group, IQ Engines, and the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology through a grant from the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a component of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. NIDRR is the primary U.S. government agency focused on disability and rehabilitation research. Its mission is to generate research knowledge and assistive technologies while promoting their effective use in improving the abilities and opportunities of individuals with disabilities in performing activities of their choice in the community. The initiative supports the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in its mandate to provide increased access to U.S. currency for persons who are blind and visually impaired.

Dr. Charlie Lakin, the Director of NIDRR, issued the following statement: “Through our dialogue with the BEP, a special opportunity emerged to fulfill our mission in support of persons who are blind and visually impaired. The IDEAL Currency Identifier uses advanced image recognition technology to read a note and, in a matter of seconds, provides users with an audible response indicating the note’s denomination.”

Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios applauded the Department of Education’s role in the app’s development. “Treasury is committed to providing meaningful access to U.S. currency and, by using technology, we can help hundreds of thousands of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Our collaboration with the Department of Education allowed us to be resourceful and, in turn, more individuals will have the means to independently denominate the U.S. currency they use in daily commerce.”

The app, which interacts with Google’s “Eyes-Free” applications, can be downloaded for free on more than 1,250 different wireless devices. The IDEAL Currency Identifier was developed by Apps4Android, Inc., a subsidiary of IDEAL Group that develops mobile applications. Android-based devices are produced by 48 manufacturers and distributed by 60 wireless service providers in 136 countries.

This new app is one of several measures the government is developing to assist people with vision impairments to denominate currency. In April 2011, the BEP introduced EyeNote®, a similar currency reading mobile app. There have been more than 8,000 free downloads of the EyeNote® app since its introduction.

In May 2011, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner approved three measures to provide accessibility to U.S. currency for those who are blind or visually impaired. These measures include implementing a Currency Reader Program to distribute a currency reader device to blind and visually impaired U.S. citizens; continuing to add large high-contrast numerals and different background colors to redesigned currency the BEP may lawfully change; and adding a raised tactile feature to U.S. currency unique to each U.S. Federal Reserve note that BEP may lawfully change, which would provide users with a means of identifying each denomination via touch. For more information about the IDEAL Currency Identifier and other accessibility apps, please visit www.moneyfactory.gov.