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February 9, 2016

Thousands of ‘Currency Readers’ in the Pipeline for the Blind

While a $1 bill means something entirely different than a $100 bill, they might not feel too different to the visually impaired. The government is ready to do something about that challenge, though.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing expects to distribute between 100,000 and 500,000 “currency readers” to the blind and others who are visually impaired, says Larry R. Felix, director of the bureau in written testimony for a House Financial Services Committee hearing today.

In a report last year, the Government Accountability Office described the gizmos as “portable electronic devices capable of speaking the denomination of a bill out loud.”

The effort is part of a response by the Treasury Department to a court ruling several years ago that directed the department to provide the blind and visually impaired with meaningful access to currency.

“We plan to launch a pilot program this summer and roll the program out nationally in 2015. The project plan is under joint development and will be operated by the BEP an the LOC/NLS,” Felix said in his statement. LOC/NLS is the Library of Congress’ service for the blind and physically handicapped.
Corrected July 15, 12:53 p.m.

A previous version of this post incorrectly described the statement from Larry R. Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, as it relates to the office’s involvement with the readers.

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