Boy's mum calls for tactile banknotes

USING banknotes makes no sense to severely vision impaired Connor McLeod.

The Oakhurst boy, 12, can only use coins to spend at the canteen when he starts high school later this month because he can't tell the difference between our banknotes.

His mother, Ally Lancaster, is urging the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to put tactile markings on notes to help vision impaired people such as her son.

She recently set up a Facebook page dedicated to the cause and started a petition, which already has 1250 signatures.

"It means nothing to me but it would mean a lot to my son and the other 300,000 visually impaired people across Australia," Ms Lancaster said.

"That figure is expected to double within 10 years. Connor is fine with coins but notes completely do his head in. He's a bright boy but we have a system that's ineffective and inequitable. I'm not always going to be around and I want my son to be able to lead an independent life."

Connor said tactile markings would make a big difference in his life.

"I don't always have someone around to help me," he said.

"I'm already independent but tactile markings would make me more confident. It would also make other vision impaired people more independent."

AUSTRALIA already prints tactile notes for Chile, Mexico and Thailand.

The RBA consults peak bodies about making bank notes accessible to the visually impaired.

Implemented elements include length differentials, strong colour contrasts between denominations and bold numerals.

Blind Citizens Australia has developed a cash test card that uses the length differentials to help distinguish banknotes.

The Reserve Bank-funded project is free to those in need. A spokesman for the RBA said tactile markings were currently not an option as they wear away quickly, which generates more confusion for the vision impaired.

Ms Lancaster said the cash test card isn't good enough and wants the RBA to be more committed to resolving the problem.

"While I applaud the fact that the RBA is doing something, it's not enough," she said.

"Now that they're updating it is the perfect time to get banknotes up to standard in terms of accessibility."


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