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Introduction

The currency of the United States of America is the most widely used in the world. The U.S. banknotes that are used today were first produced in 1929, and there have been only minor changes to the basic designs since then. The designs of the six denominations currently in production ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100)1 were intended to make it difficult to counterfeit U.S. banknotes by common printing processes, to be durable, and to be a means of differentiating each denomination. U.S. paper currency differs from the currency of all other countries in that notes of all denominations are of identical size and color. To ensure that the correct denomination is being given and that the correct amount of change is received in return, extra care is required of a person using a bill.

Features that may be used in future banknote designs to authenticate U.S. banknotes were recommended in a previous report (NRC, 1993). On July 13, 1994, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced its intent to issue redesigned banknotes that incorporate counterfeit-deterrent features, which are based on the recommendations of the National Research Council study and other studies performed by the New Currency Design Task Force. The visible security features scheduled for incorporation in the new design are described in Appendix F.

Since all the U.S. banknotes are the same size (approximately 67 mm × 156 mm) and are printed with identical inks on the same security paper, the user has to refer to the printed design to determine the denomination of the banknote. On each of the six denominations in production today, centered on the banknote front there is a portrait unique to that denomination note. The value of the note is printed in grey letters (1.6 cm high) across the green Treasury seal and in smaller, black letters (3-4 mm in height) across the bottom center of both the front and the back of the note. The denomination numeral is printed in all four corners of the note on both front and back, with the exception of the $5 bill, which has the word "FIVE" in place of the numerals on the lower part of the back side. The backs of these banknotes are generally more distinctive than the fronts, with a picture of a different building on each (except the $1 bill, which shows the obverse and reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, and the $2 bill, which shows the signing of the Declaration of Independence). Each denomination note also has characteristic intricately engraved scrollwork around the borders of the front and back of the note. In addition

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Although still legal tender, the $2 banknote is currently not in regular production. NO decision regarding issuance of this note in the new design series has been made.



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--> 1 Introduction The currency of the United States of America is the most widely used in the world. The U.S. banknotes that are used today were first produced in 1929, and there have been only minor changes to the basic designs since then. The designs of the six denominations currently in production ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100)1 were intended to make it difficult to counterfeit U.S. banknotes by common printing processes, to be durable, and to be a means of differentiating each denomination. U.S. paper currency differs from the currency of all other countries in that notes of all denominations are of identical size and color. To ensure that the correct denomination is being given and that the correct amount of change is received in return, extra care is required of a person using a bill. Features that may be used in future banknote designs to authenticate U.S. banknotes were recommended in a previous report (NRC, 1993). On July 13, 1994, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced its intent to issue redesigned banknotes that incorporate counterfeit-deterrent features, which are based on the recommendations of the National Research Council study and other studies performed by the New Currency Design Task Force. The visible security features scheduled for incorporation in the new design are described in Appendix F. Since all the U.S. banknotes are the same size (approximately 67 mm × 156 mm) and are printed with identical inks on the same security paper, the user has to refer to the printed design to determine the denomination of the banknote. On each of the six denominations in production today, centered on the banknote front there is a portrait unique to that denomination note. The value of the note is printed in grey letters (1.6 cm high) across the green Treasury seal and in smaller, black letters (3-4 mm in height) across the bottom center of both the front and the back of the note. The denomination numeral is printed in all four corners of the note on both front and back, with the exception of the $5 bill, which has the word "FIVE" in place of the numerals on the lower part of the back side. The backs of these banknotes are generally more distinctive than the fronts, with a picture of a different building on each (except the $1 bill, which shows the obverse and reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, and the $2 bill, which shows the signing of the Declaration of Independence). Each denomination note also has characteristic intricately engraved scrollwork around the borders of the front and back of the note. In addition 1   Although still legal tender, the $2 banknote is currently not in regular production. NO decision regarding issuance of this note in the new design series has been made.

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--> to these features found on U.S. banknotes of all denominations, some of the designs include additional value and numeral indicators, such as the word "TEN" printed through the numerals on the back of the $10 bill. In general, the additional features are printed in smaller fonts than the more prominent denominators on the top of the banknote face. For cash transactions, all of the features present in the design either to help the user verify the legitimacy of a particular banknote or to indicate its value are visual clues, with the exception of the characteristic "feel" of U.S. banknotes. For blind people or those with low vision,2 distinguishing among bills of different denominations and determining the authenticity of a bill can be difficult or impossible. Approximately 3.5 million Americans have low vision, which is defined as any form of visual disability not correctable with glasses or contact lenses that affects everyday activities. And nearly 200,000 additional Americans are blind—that is, they have no useful pattern vision. For these groups, the current banknote design causes problems in the daily activities of buying and selling merchandise, using vending machines, and generally working with money. For many other Americans, dealing with money in lighting that is less than ideal can also lead to errors in cash transactions. The currency designs of other countries attempt to address the problems of blind people and those with low vision by identifying the value of a banknote with a variety of features (see Appendix D). A common technique is to make bills of different values different sizes. Using a size template or, with some practice, by feel, a blind person can differentiate among bills of various denominations by size alone. The use of different colors for different denominations is also common in currency outside the United States and is of use to many with low vision. Appendix D contains descriptions of several additional features in use worldwide that help visually disabled people to more easily effect cash transactions. Within the United States, there is a long history of groups advocating changes to the U.S. banknotes to make them more user-friendly. For example, the American Council of the Blind has adopted resolutions over the last 20 years to encourage the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) to investigate and adopt features to make banknote denomination possible for blind people (ACB, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1992). In the early 1960s, the BEP invited people who were blind and visually impaired to provide comments about identifying U.S. currency (Hill, 1994). From the 1970s to the 1990s, several resolutions were introduced in Congress to urge the Secretary of the Treasury and the BEP to provide braille markings and tactile markings on banknotes for currency identification (H.R., 1979, 1981, 1983a, b, 1991; S., 1983). In 1983, the BEP, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve and the Secret Service, conducted a study into worldwide efforts to make currency accessible to blind people and those with low vision. They concluded that making banknote size proportional to the denomination would be the most effective way to ease identification of a banknote's value. The report suggested that there would be a high cost associated with radical redesign of the U.S. banknotes. In that report, delivered to Representative Edward Roybal (then Chairman of the Select Committee on Aging, U.S. House of Representatives), the BEP recommended the continuing development of sophisticated electronic devices to determine the denomination of a banknote and provide either an audio or tactile output. Due to current efforts to redesign the U.S. Banknotes, 2   There are varying definitions for these terms. See the glossary (Appendix C) and discussion in Chapter 2 for the definitions used by the committee throughout this report.

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--> the present study was conducted without the constraint of leaving the U.S. banknote design intact. Features currently used by other countries, and others previously proposed by groups representing blind and visually impaired people in the United States (for example, ACB, 1978, 1980, 1992), can be considered for inclusion in the forthcoming redesign of U.S. currency without compromising the security of American banknotes. This report contains an analysis by the Committee on Currency Features Usable by Visually Impaired of the problems encountered by people with visual disabilities when dealing with U.S. paper money and it contains recommended solutions to those problems. In Chapter 2, the populations of visually disabled people are described, and their needs in working with currency are assessed. Chapter 3 contains a description of the assessment methodology undertaken by the committee in evaluating various proposed banknote features, followed by the assessment of the individual features and recommendations in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 contains recommendations for research and development in areas of particular promise. And Chapter 6 presents strategies for implementing the features recommended. Throughout the report, a series of recommendations are made; these are compiled in Chapter 7. References ACB (American Council of the Blind). 1972. Resolution 72-08. Approved July 7, 1972. ACB (American Council of the Blind). 1977. Resolution 77-07. Approved July 16, 1977. ACB (American Council of the Blind). 1978. Resolution 78-24. Approved July 29, 1978. ACB (American Council of the Blind). 1979. Resolution 79-23. Approved July 7, 1979. ACB (American Council of the Blind). 1980. Resolution 80-04. Approved July 7, 1980. ACB (American Council of the Blind). 1992. Resolution 92-02. Approved July 9, 1992. Hill, B. J. 1994. Presentation to the Committee by Billie Jean Hill on behalf of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision. March 29, 1994. H.R. (U.S. House of Representatives). 1979. House Congressional Resolution 6027. Introduced December 4, 1979, to the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. H.R. (U.S. House of Representatives). 1981. House Congressional Resolution 3656. Introduced May 20, 1981, to the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. H.R. (U.S. House of Representatives). 1983a. House Congressional Resolution 2666. Introduced April 20, 1983, to the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. H.R. (U.S. House of Representatives). 1983b. House Congressional Resolution 163. Introduced September 13, 1983, to the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs. H.R. (U.S. House of Representatives). 1991. House Congressional Resolution 2160. Introduced May 1, 1991, to the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs.

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--> NRC (National Research Council). 1993. Counterfeit Deterrent Features for the Next-Generation Currency Design . National Materials Advisory Board, NRC. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. S. (U.S. Senate). 1983. Senate Congressional Resolution 1877. Introduced September 22, 1983, to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.