New Notes Pose Serious Challenges To Visually Impaired, This Petition Demands To Make It Accessible

Swarnami Mondal

October 6th, 2017


Courtesy: Moneylife, Image Credits: Moneylife

[For those who want to sign online for the petition can click on the link here]

The new currency notes introduced by the Reserve Bank of India post demonetisation are proving extremely difficult to the blinds, due to almost similar sizes, said a report by the Moneylife.

The old notes had a difference of 10 mm in case of each note, either in height or in each denomination, for new notes this has been reduced to 4 mm. In fact, the old Rs 20 note and the new Rs 200 notes are of the same size. Both being orange in colour, it becomes difficult with persons having low vision to differentiate between the two videos and make appropriate transactions.

Difficulties in recognition

How would you live life, if there is no way to identify notes while you conduct transactions? In each monetary transaction, if there is no way to differentiate the notes, coins and total amount? This is frightening as well as disabling.

This situation prevails for almost over 50 lakh blind people in India and lakhs of senior citizens with low eyesight. Blind people identify notes by its size while people with low vision and illiterate ones identify these notes by its colour.

The new notes, however, have multiplied the challenge. Digital currency still remains inaccessible though they can use computers and apps through assistive technology. Totally blind people need differently sized notes and tactile marks that can be easily felt by touch. Low vision individuals need contrast colours and large font.

After several attempts in trying to see RBI with a reason, various organisations working with the blinds and the blind community in India have decided to go public with their frustration. The way to reduce the problem is to withdraw tattered notes faster.

Noted Advocate and Solicitor Kanchan Pamnani told the Moneylife, “The international standard for the difference in currency note sizes is 5 mm. However, in new currency notes of Rs 50 and Rs 200, the difference is just 4 mm. We heard that the new Rs 100 note is being proposed will have a difference of just 2 mm when aligned with Rs 50 or Rs 200 note. There is already a public interest litigation filed in the court and we will intervene in the matter, on 30 October 2017.”

In 2009 and 2011, the RBI had held a consultative meeting with the associations of blind people. It even sought answers from NGOs in 2015 regarding the new design and size of currency notes. Advocate Pamnani said, no petition is of any avail, hey listen, they sympathize but they don’t come to any tangible solution.

Online petition

The Blind graduates Forum of India has even started a petition. It says, “With this petition, we urge the society to come together as a whole and contribute towards making the lives of fellow citizens much more independent. Before you go ahead and support us by signing this petition, please close your eyes and take any of the new denominations in your hand, for example, Rs 200 and Rs 20, or coins of Re 1 and Rs 2. Try to identify the difference between the two. It is also important to understand that the difficulty increases as the currency gets older with all the folds caused due to repeated use.”

While blind entrepreneurs are taxpayers and job creators, the Government and RBI have created an unnecessary scenario by introducing inaccessible currency, which makes them dependent again.

Quoting a blind entrepreneur, the Petition says, “I run my business. I have to deal with numerous transactions on a daily basis. Once I happen to give a 500 note instead Rs 20 note. The customer happily took it. I came to know about it only when my father told me about this.”

The Petition is addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, RBI Governor Dr Urjit Patel, Director of Coin and Currency sections in the Ministry of Finance and Secretary in the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

What are the possible solutions

The petition seeks the intervention of the government on these issues:

  • No variation in size of different bank notes

Proposed solution: Maintain at least 10 mm difference in size – length and width

  • Inaccessible banking websites and apps

Proposed solution:  Bleed lines on polymer notes are perceptible, and not on paper notes. So shift to polymer notes. Withdraw the new Rs50 and Rs100 notes on priority and introduce notes with at least 10mm variation and easily perceptible markings that does not fade with use.

  • No variation in shape, size and colour in coins.

Proposed Solution: Adopt different shape, size and colour. Withdraw old coins of Re1, Rs2 and Rs5.

  • Inaccessible ATMs

Proposed solutions: All ATMs need to be accessible for all persons with disabilities.

The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly supports the efforts put in and also the urges the community members to sign the petition.

Click here to sign the petition

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