Helping people with sight loss to use currency with confidence

Release date
28 October 2016

Banknote gauges to help people with sight loss better identify New Zealand’s currency have been released by the Reserve Bank in collaboration with organisations representing the blindness community.

Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand said the Reserve Bank consulted with representative groups during the development of the Brighter Money Series 7 banknotes about features to help people who are blind or have low vision to identify notes and distinguish denominations.

“Feedback from this consultation indicated that different note sizes, greater colour contrast between notes, large bold numerals, and clearer backgrounds would best assist this community, and we’ve been able to incorporate these features in the new banknotes.”

“We’ve also worked with the Blind Foundation and Blind Citizens NZ to develop a new note gauge, to help their members easily differentiate denominations. We expect the gauge will help people with sight loss to use banknotes with confidence.”

The pocket-size plastic gauge allows people with sight loss to determine a banknote’s denomination based on how it fits in the note gauge. The gauge features both braille and large, bold printed denominations.

“The tactile characteristics of the banknote windows and the intaglio (raised) ink may also provide assistance to people with blindness or low vision. The Reserve Bank considered using braille and other tactile features on the banknotes, but was not satisfied these could be incorporated into the notes without causing production, processing, and durability issues. Feedback from consultation indicated tactile features need to be durable to be effective.”

The Reserve Bank has made 5000 note gauges available to the Blind Foundation and Blind Citizens NZ free of charge. The gauges work with both the old and new sets of banknotes in circulation.

The new Brighter Money banknotes are being progressively released into circulation. Both the new and old notes are legal tender.

More information

Image of note gauge

Media contact
Naomi Mitchell
External Communications Adviser
Ph 09 366 2643 or 027 294 3900
Email: naomi.mitchell@rbnz.govt.nz