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Brighter banknotes help people with low vision

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: Diversity, Front Page Layout, Top Picture

KARYN Pender has low vision, but she saw enough of the new brighter banknotes to take a liking to their design, which helps people like her.


Karyn Pender and her guide dog, Logan, with a newly released $10 note.

The new notes feature brighter colours, larger numerals and a clearer design which the Reserve Bank has promoted as being easier to read.

Karyn, who has had low vision since birth and uses her guide dog, Logan, says she likes the clearer design.

She says they are easier to read than the values on the old notes which are spelled out.

“The large numerals are excellent,” she says.

Karyn says she finds the different colours the easiest way to differentiate between denominations and keeping similar colours for the new notes is helpful.

Chris Orr, Access and Awareness Advisor for the Blind Foundation, says he is pleased the blind and low vision community has been considered in the Reserve Bank’s currency development plans.

He says they were approached two years ago when preparation for developing the notes began.

They were asked to identify and suggest features to help people with low vision to differentiate between denominations.

“We said brighter colours and bigger numbers. We didn’t want them to be too busy with too much clutter.”

He says the features will benefit people with low vision, who he says make up the vast majority of people who use Blind Foundation services.

Mr Orr says the chance to consult the Reserve Bank on the needs of low vision people was a wonderful opportunity and a privilege.

He says there has been an on-going relationship between the Blind Foundation and Reserve Bank since the introduction of the $1 and $2 coins.

Mr Orr, who is blind himself, had an opportunity to examine the new notes at the official launch of the $5 and $10 notes on September 1.

“They feel good, proof in the pudding will be after they have been in circulation [for a while].”

The new banknotes were developed to take advantage of new security technology to minimise counterfeiting.

They feature the same prominent New Zealanders and native birds as the old notes.

The $5 and $10 notes were released on October 12 and the Reserve Bank plans to begin circulating the $20, $50 and $100 notes next year.

The Reserve Bank has also been working with the blind and low vision community to develop a note gauge.

The gauge features brail and will allow blind and low vision people to easily identify the denomination of a note by checking it against the edge of the gauge.

Vivienne Sanders, external communications advisor for the Reserve Bank, says the Blind Foundation, Retina New Zealand and Blind Citizens New Zealand were consulted when developing the gauge.

“We wanted to produce something that all parties were comfortable with.

” She says the final prototype gauge design has been signed off and they are expected to be released early next year.

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