India’s new currency notes will help millions of visually disabled transact better

All new.
All new.
Image: Reuters/Vivek Prakash
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India’s massive population of visually disabled people will soon have currency notes with better features to help them in everyday transactions.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a release on Sept. 22, said that it will shortly release Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes with three new features.

The most important of these is the introduction of bleed lines—elevated markings that can be touched and felt—on notes.

Currently, India currency notes have different identification marks depending on the denomination. These marks are printed in intaglio—raised print—that help the visually impaired differentiate between notes. The central bank will now enlarge these marks for easier identification.

These two features—bleed lines and bigger identification marks—have been added “to aid visually impaired in easy identification of banknotes part from securing them against counterfeiting,” the RBI said in the statement.

Here’s what the new notes will look like.

The new features added by the RBI.
Image: Screenshot/RBI

The Rs500 denomination notes will have five bleed lines in three different sets in the upper left and the right-hand edge, the RBI said. While the Rs1,000 denomination notes will have six bleed lines in four sets.

“The Reserve Bank of India is committed to continually bring about modifications in the design of banknotes with changing times,” it said in the release. The RBI is also in the process of withdrawing all notes issued prior to 2005. The deadline for exchanging these notes is Dec. 31, 2015.

In his maiden budget speech in July 2014, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the government will incorporate Braille-like signs on notes. ”The government will print currency notes with Braille-like signs to assist visually challenged people,” Jaitley said.

India has one of the world’s largest population of the visually disabled. Over 5 million Indians, according to the 2011 Census (pdf), suffer from blindness, although other studies estimate that number to be closer to 7 million.