The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is required to change the nation's currency under a recent federal court ruling so the blind and visually impaired can use it, but the agency also wants to make sure that any changes in currency will not complicate the jobs of the industries working with currency, including the vending industry.
That was the message of two BEP officials who spoke to the government affairs symposium during the National Automatic Merchandising Association OneShow in Chicago last week.
Dawn Haley, chief of the office external relations for BEP, said BEP is considering high contrast numerals on notes, a tactile feature, and distributing a currency reader to make older bills easier for the visually impaired to use.
She also noted that Apple Inc. has introduced its iNote, a note taking application that runs on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad as a universal application.
Doug Bernia, project manager at BEP, expanded on the tactile feature. He said BEP wants to understand what impact it will have on the vending industry. "Nothing has been decided," he said. "This is certainly a multi-year program."
He said BEP is working with currency manufacturers to see if there is a material that would allow the currency with a tactile feature to use the same substrate as existing currency. A substrate is a base on which material is deposited in the manufacturing process. "We're trying to find a material that's going to stay on the same substrate," Bernia said.
Bernia noted that Canadian currency has a tactile feature.
The U.S. 1-dollar bill will not undergo changes.
The option of having different size currency has also been considered, Bernia said. He said this option is popular with some consumers, but BEP realizes it could adversely affect businesses using cash registers, so it is not likely to make changes to size.
The option of having currency with notches in the edges has also been considered. He said this has also won favor with some consumers, but implementing this feature would be expensive. After studying potential changes, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury will make a final decision on what currency changes will be implemented.