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BEP Announces U.S. Currency Reader Program for Blind and Visually Impaired

July 3, 2014

Release Date: July 3, 2014
Contact: Darlene Anderson
(202) 874-2229

Orlando, FL – The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) revealed today its plans to distribute currency reader devices at no cost to eligible blind or visually impaired persons, as one component of its initiative to provide meaningful access to Federal Reserve notes (U.S. currency). Program details were presented at the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) Board of Directors meeting and annual convention by the Senior Advisor to the BEP’s Director, Dawn R. Haley, in Orlando, Florida. 

Haley signaled the U.S. Currency Reader Program kick-off by announcing that currency readers would be distributed to eligible attendees at the July and August summer conventions of the National Federation of the Blind, American Council of the Blind (ACB), and Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), followed by a broader launch of the program in two phases:

Pilot: Beginning September 2, 2014, in partnership with the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) the BEP will initiate a four-month pilot where NLS patrons can pre-order a currency reader. The pilot program allows the government to test its ordering and distribution processes and gauge demand for currency readers.

National Rollout: Currency readers will be widely available to all U.S. citizens, or persons legally residing in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired, starting January 2, 2015. Individuals who are not NLS patrons must submit an application, signed by a competent authority who can certify eligibility, to request a currency reader.

“The BEP has participated at the summer conventions for a number of years now,” Haley said. “We are excited to introduce our currency reader program plans here at this venue and to provide currency readers to interested conference participants here and at the other conventions as well.”

Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program that circulates braille and audio materials to approximately 400,000 eligible borrowers in the United States. “The fact that we already have a process in place to provide reading materials to individuals who are blind or visually impaired made our partnership with the BEP a natural fit,” explained Isabella Marques de Castilla, NLS Deputy Director. “Our role in the U.S. Currency Reader Program will be to process orders and distribute currency reader devices to eligible individuals.”

In 2011, the BEP introduced EyeNote®, an app that scans and identifies note images on mobile devices operating on the Apple iOS platform. A similar app for Android phones, the IDEAL Currency Reader ® was developed through collaboration with the Department of Education. Individuals interested in applying for a currency reader device or learning more about BEP’s meaningful access program can visit https://www.bep.gov/services/currency-accessibility/us-currency-reader-program.