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A 13-Year-Old Blind Boy Made a Difference

Tactile Braille Features on Australian Bank NotesThe Australian Reserve Bank (RBA) will soon introduce “tactile” banknotes to assist visually impaired people identify the different denominations. And we can thank 13-year-old Connor McLeod, from New South Wales, for this change.

In May 2015, legally blind Connor lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission against the RBA’s current banknotes, arguing it discriminates against the 300,000 visually impaired people in Australia.

Although current currencies include features to help people with low vision, such as bright colours and different sizes, for Connor, a “call to action for change” came when he was left embarrassed at not being able to tell immediately how much money he received for Christmas.

The Human Rights Commission supported Connor’s complaint and a petition for the new banknotes was circulated, with 57,000 signatures received. This led to a meeting with the RBA in November 2015, where Connor lobbied the main decision makers for change.

Although many organizations and people had lobbied for years to have tactile features on banknotes, it is Connor’s intelligent, passionate and factual plea during his meeting with the RBA which resulted in the RBA’s announcement it will soon add a tactile feature to all bank notes.

In a statement, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said the new tactile features of banknotes will help vision impaired people tell the difference between denominations of Australian bank notes, along with the bright colours, large and bold numbers and different sizes for bank notes.

Mr Stevens went on to say that the testing and trialling process for the next generation of banknotes is ongoing and designs have not yet been finalised, however, the new designs will be released in a timely way, so that the public can be confident they understand how to recognise and use the new banknotes. The first “New Generation Banknote”, to include tactile features, is the new $5 note which will be issued from 1 September 2016.

Sue Wagner President of Queensland Braille Writing Association said the association endorses the initiative taken up by the RBA and particularly the persistence of Connor in taking his issue to the Human Rights Commission and then to the RBA. Real tactile features on Australian Bank Notes will be another step in ensuring that people with vision impairment are not disadvantaged in day-to-day living.

“As an organisation whose mission is tactual literacy, we look forward to the testing of the new tactile bank notes and we are confident that some of our clients would be willing participants in the testing process” commented Mrs Wagner.

 

Braille House (Queensland Braille Writing Association) is a non-profit organization providing Braille and Moon tuition and reading materials to empower people who are blind or who have low vision to live with dignity and independence. Although located in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Braille House provides to people throughout Queensland and Australia wide.

Features of Braille House include:

  • Library: a free lending library of braille and moon books and braille magazines.
  • Transcribing: producing books and other resources in braille for children and adults, students of all ages, organisations and government departments.
  • Tutoring: tutoring of adults who wish to become touch readers of braille or moon script.

 

Find Braille House at 507 Ipswich Rd, Annerley QLD 4103 or online at http://braillehouse.org.au/ .  Contact us on (07) 3848 5257.