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February is Low Vision Awareness Month:  Apply For a Currency Reader at No Cost to You, If You Have Vision Loss  

February 9, 2017

Contact: Lydia Washington (202) 874-3487

Washington, DC – February 9, 2017 – In observance of Low Vision Awareness Month, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), in partnership with the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), wants to spread the word about the U.S. Currency Reader Program – a program that provides assistive technology at no cost to eligible applicants.  The currency reader, called iBill®, is a small hand-held device that denominates all U.S. currency in circulation to assist people who are blind and visually impaired. 

To date, more than 47,000 currency readers have been distributed to eligible U.S. citizens and legal residents.  “We have received an extremely positive response from the visually impaired community about the currency readers’ functionality,” said BEP Director Len Olijar.  “What better time than Low Vision Awareness Month to create additional awareness about the program and encourage others to apply for a currency reader.”

The iBill® operates 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 2.0®, 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.  There have been more than 30,000 EyeNote 2.0® downloads to date and the IDEAL® app hit 10,000 downloads this week. 

For additional information about the U.S. Currency Reader Program or our mobile apps, please visit BEP’s website at https://www.bep.gov/services/currency-accessibility/meaningful-access-program-background.