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Banknote features for people who are blind or have low vision

New Zealand’s banknotes have features for people who are blind or have low vision. These are large, bold numerals, greater colour contrast between banknotes, an increase in size as the value increases and clearer backgrounds.

During the development of the new banknotes, we consulted about what features would help people who are blind or have low vision identify banknotes and distinguish the different denominations. The word 'blind' encompasses all those with a vision impairment who can identify with some or all of the issues described below.

Feedback from this consultation was that different banknote sizes, greater colour contrast between banknotes, large bold numerals and clearer backgrounds would best help this community.

Some of the organisations we consulted with:

blindfountationlogo-165x180  blindcitizensnzlogo-162x180  retinanzlogo-196x180 

Large, bold numerals

The designs feature large numerals to clearly show the denomination. These appear as both light-on-dark and dark-on-light.

Greater colour contrast between notes

Each banknote has a dominant colour:

  • $5 is orange
  • $10 is blue
  • $20 is green
  • $50 is purple
  • $100 is red.

Different note sizes

The bigger the banknote, the higher the value.

Clearer backgrounds

The banknote backgrounds are less cluttered, allowing the denominations to be seen clearly.

What hasn't changed

The individuals and native birds depicted on the current banknotes are unchanged, as are the sizes of the banknotes.

The new banknotes have been developed to improve the security of our money (to minimise counterfeiting) by benefiting from technical advances made over recent years.

Banknote gauges to help blind people

In October 2016, we made 5,000 banknote gauges available free of charge to the Blind Foundation and Blind Citizens NZ for distribution.

The pocket-size plastic gauge allows people with sight loss to determine a banknote’s denomination based on how it fits in the banknote gauge.

The gauge features both braille and large, bold printed denominations. It works with both the old and new series of banknotes in circulation.

Banknote gauge for people with low vision

Video 1m:04s

Other features to help with low vision

The banknotes' tactile characteristics of the windows and the intaglio (raised) ink may also help people with blindness or low vision tell the difference between the banknotes.

We considered using braille and other tactile features on the banknotes, but we were not satisfied these could be added to the banknotes without causing production, processing and durability issues.