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Accessibility Features on Canadian Currency

January 4, 2011
Bank of Canada
Accessibility Features on Canadian Currency

A response has been received to this letter: see letter #2167

See history below for details

January 4, 2011
Bank of Canada
234 Wellington Street, 2W
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G9

Attention: Marc Charron, Program Manager

Dear Sir:


I am writing to you on behalf of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), a nationwide organization of rights holders who are blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted.

During consultations that resulted in Canada's present paper bank notes, members of our organization, then known as the National Federation of the Blind:

Advocates for Equality participated, and made a number of recommendations that still hold true today. We believe the bank notes should have a full set of accessibility features as its priority and that the bank note reader be available to blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted Canadians through any financial institution as opposed to a service organization for the blind.

As the Bank of Canada develops Canada's next brand of bank notes, the following represent some of our priorities:

1.            Denominations of bills should have different sizes, or at least different lengths;

2.            There should be a full set of accessible features on the bank notes;

3.            The tactile markings (Braille) to be sharper or at least as sharp as the current paper bank notes;

4.            There should be a clipped corner nearest the tactile marking, to assist with locating the first tactile marking (Braille cell) for location purposes;

5.            Area surrounding the tactile marking (Braille cell) should be reinforced so there is less possibility of confusing the tactile marking (Braille) with raised wrinkling of the bank notes. New polymer bank notes will still wrinkle thus the area around the tactile markings needs to be re-enforced or the issue confusing the tactile marking (Braille) with raised wrinkling of the bank notes will still exist;  

6.            Electronic scanners, provided by the Bank of Canada, should recognize and read the bank notes regardless of the orientation of the bank note (all four possibilities); and

7.            The note reader supplied by the Bank of Canada should be available at any financial institution at no charge.

We maintain our view that any system of tactile markings are far inferior to bank notes of different lengths and/or sizes, as the tactile markings simply do not hold up, even after fairly minimal circulation. Tactile markings as part of accessible features can be an added benefit to the different lengths of bank notes.

In many other countries around the world, notes are of different lengths. We have been told it would be too costly to create notes of different lengths, as this would require changes in vending and bank machines and cash registers. However, Canada already dealt successfully with a similar issue when the $1 and $2 bills were discontinued and new coins replaced these notes. Presumably, this required significant changes in coin-operated vending machines.

Making bank notes different lengths would not cause nearly as much distress and cost as the changeover of cash registers (tills) when the GST was introduced. Further, other countries that have implemented the different lengths of notes already use bank machines so this issue has already been resolved. Banking machines like wallets and tills may already have the capacity to work with differing lengths of bank notes. If not, the Bank of Canada can start suggesting that these machines be readied for the possibility of bank notes of different lengths.  

The AEBC looks forward to participating actively with representatives from the Bank of Canada in all future consultations concerning developments in Canadian currency.

Robin East

cc           Greg Kealey, Analyst, Currency Development


  • This letter, #2166 was sent January 4, 2011 to Bank of Canada: Accessibility Features on Canadian Currency (has 1 replies)

    • #2167, which is a reply to #2166, was received January 19, 2011 from Bank of Canada: Accessibility Features on Canadian Currency