Over the years, the U.S. Congress has grappled with several legislative initiatives to make currency available with special features to help the visually impaired, who sometimes find it difficult to distinguish, for example between a $1 and a $5 bill. The National Academy of Sciences and the Committee on Currency Features for the Visually Impaired have both studied this problem. In this lesson you will work in groups to make a report to the National Academy of Science about your recommendations for a new currency that tries to solve this problem.
You will present a report which will include these details:
- Summary of history of currency
- Comparison and contrast of currency in use today
- Functions and characteristics of money
- Design for currency notes that would enable the visually impaired to more easily determine the denomination of a note.
1. In order to design and produce a currency that can be easily used by people with visual impairments, the designer would need to know about the function of money, the history of money, and the design of money for the present.
What is money?
What can you do with money?
If you were a person with a visual impairment, what difficulties would you have dealing with the currency we use in the United States?
- If the definition of money is that it makes it easier to trade for goods and services, would that be true for the visually impaired person?
3. You will work in teams (or individually if you choose) in an effort to design a new currency that will help visually impaired people recognize the denomination of bills they use. You will report your proposals for a new currency to the National Academy of Sciences. To make sure you have a complete understanding of the design elements, requirements of a United States bill, and the ultimate function of money, your report will include these details:
- Summary of history of currency
- Comparison and contrast of features of currency in use today
- Functions of money
- Design for currency notes that would enable the visually impaired to more easily determine the denomination of a bill.
Your money design MUST have these characteristics (discuss each characteristic to clarify how each would affect the visually impaired person):
- It must be able to be generally acceptable. (The seeing public must be able to use it also.)
- It must be durable. (How long will braille dots stay raised?)
- It must be portable. (It must be easily carried and handled.)
- It must be divisible.
Your final report should include a summary of the history of money used today, a contrast and comparison of features of money used concurrently today, a list of the functions of money, and a design that shows an understanding of the design elements and characteristics required of our money today.
Good try! There has not been a design that has yet been adopted by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing because so far the studies have shown that the durability of the proposed modifications is limited. Although new currency today has a large dark numeral on the back of the notes to help millions of people with low vision, it does not help the blind. Research continues into developing features for our money that will help visually impaired.
Go to the PBS website to find out more about the history of money .