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Currency Readers Available for the Blind and Visually Impaired at No Cost to Them

February 8, 2016

In Observance of Low Vision Awareness Month, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Encourages Eligible Individuals to Apply

Contact: Lydia Washington (202) 874-3487

Washington, DC – February 8, 2016 – The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), in partnership with the Library of Congress' National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), launched the U.S. Currency Reader Program in 2015 as a means for blind or visually impaired individuals to denominate U.S. currency.  Now in its second year, the program provides U.S. citizens or legal residents with vision impairments a free currency reader device at no cost to them.

“To date, more than 35,000 currency readers have been distributed to eligible individuals and we have received a very positive response from the visually impaired community about their functionality.  February is Low Vision Awareness Month and what better time to create additional awareness about the program and encourage others to apply for one,” said BEP Director Len Olijar.

The currency reader, called iBill®, is a small hand-held device that denominates all U.S. currency in circulation in one of three modes:  a clear natural voice, a pattern of tones, or a pattern of vibrations for privacy.  The vibration mode also assists people who are deaf and blind in identifying a note’s denomination.  The device uses a single AAA battery, which is included.

Currency reader applications are processed and readers are shipped by the NLS, which also administers a free library program of braille and audio materials for U.S. residents and citizens living abroad.

To request a currency reader, individuals should complete the application located on BEP’s website at https://www.bep.gov/services/currency-accessibility/us-currency-reader-program/us-currency-reader-application-form or call (844) 815-9388, toll free to request that an application be mailed. 

BEP also offers two mobile device applications that allow users to scan a note and have the note’s value communicated back to the user.  EyeNote®, an Apple iOS mobile application for denominating currency can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store and the IDEAL® Currency Identifier app for Android devices can be downloaded free from Google Play.