Support us in making Indian currency accessible for the blind
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How would you feel if you unknowingly give away Rs 500 note to the auto person instead of Rs 20 note and realize after he drives away?
How would you live if in every monetary transaction, there is no way for you to identify the notes, coins and total amount?
How would you feel if every time you want to spend or get cash you have to rely on another person to know the amount?
Frightening and disabling, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, the above scenario is becoming a day-to-day challenge for over 50 lakhs blind people in India and Lakhs of senior citizens with low eyesight.
Totally blind people need different size of notes and tactile marks that can be easily felt by touch. Low vision individuals need contrast colours and large font. Most of our bank notes and coins are difficult for the blind to identify. The new notes have multiplied the challenge. Digital currency still remains inaccessible though they can use computers and apps using assistive technology.
The blind community in India appeals the Finance Ministry, ReserveBank of India and our Honourable Prime Minister to make all modes of monetary transactions – notes, coins, ATMs, websites and apps accessible for all persons with disabilities including blind. We request you, the public to strengthen our voice by signing this petition.
While blind entrepreneurs are taxpayers and job creators, our Government and RBI have created an unnecessary scenario by introducing inaccessible currency, which makes them dependent again. A blind entrepreneur says, “I run my business; I have to deal with numerous transactions on a daily basis. Once I happen to give a note of 500 instead of 20 rupee note. The customer happily took it. I came to know only when my father told me about it. I am unaware as to how many times I might have done something like this.”His friend mentions, “I need help of colleagues, friends or family every time I need to withdraw money from ATM. The privacy of my financial matters has become a joke.”
A blind working professional says, “I use computers, websites and mobile apps at work every day, but most of the bank’s websites and Apps are inaccessible, Despite earning a handsome monthly salary, such environment creates bias among people and compels me to repeatedly prove my abilities.”
While Government formulates various policies to increase independence among the disabled community of the society, it is sad that many of its own actions are promoting dependency.
Here are our key points and their solutions that we appeal to be adopted:
1. Concern: Low variation in size of different bank notes.
The earlier notes had sufficiently different size. Hence, Blind did not face significant challenges to identify them. However,the difference in length of newly introduced 500 Rs. and 200 Rs. notes has been reduced from 10mm to 4mm. Width of all new notes is the same. Difference of 4mm in length is almost impossible to identify by touch alone.
Proposed Solution:Maintain at least 10mm difference in size - length and width.
2. Concern: Imperceptible bleed lines / tactile marking.
Bleed Line / Tactile Marking have been introduced in the new notes for Blind. However, they are not perceptible and fade away with use.
Proposed Solution:Bleed lines on polymer notes are perceptible, not on paper notes. So shift to polymer notes.Withdraw all inaccessible notes on priority and introduce notes with at least 10mm variation and easily perceptible markings that does not fade with use.
3. Concern:No variation in shape,size and colour in coins.
Coins have always been inaccessible for long due to lack of standardization. Often a newly launched coin is very similar to an old coin of a different value.
Proposed Solution:Adopt different shape, size and colour. Withdraw old one, two and 5-rupee coins.
4. Concern :Inaccessible banking websites and apps
Blind use assistive technology like screen reading software,magnifiers to use computers and mobile phones. Most websites and apps does not comply with accessibility standards for those technology to work.
Proposed Solution :Mandatory for all websites to comply with Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Make it mandatory for all apps to comply with BBC Mobile Accessibility Guidelines.
5. Concern : Inaccessible ATMs
Accessible ATMs were successfully introduced in India by RBI. However, the number of ATMs remains low and many don’t comply with IBA accessibility guidelines.
Proposed Solution: All ATMs need to be accessible for all persons with disabilities.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 mandates all Indian public and private establishments to provide services in accessible manner. Further, its rules direct the regulators like RBI to ensure all the services under its regulations are accessible. We earnestly appeal to adopt universal design principles and formulate Accessible Indian Currency policy to make all modes of monetary transactions accessible for all citizens with disabilities. The cost of blind individual loosing lively hood, risk on jobs generated by blind entrepreneurs, their safety and independence is economically much higher and socially immeasurable than the cost of the government withdrawing inaccessible notes and coins. All The above features are not only useful for the blind but also for illiterates, senior citizens and general public. This will empower us from being cheated, make us feel safer,enable us to live independently and with dignity.
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 20,Or 1 rupee and 2 rupee coin. 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.
Thank you for your support.
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