[announce] Update on Access to Currency The full text
mbrunson at acb.org
Thu May 20 19:54:19 GMT 2010
The long awaited Federal Register notice from the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing about their plans for making United States currency accessible to
people who are blind has arrived! It' includes a request for public comment
on their proposal. ACB will, of course, be filing comments. Individuals and
affiliates should consider filing comments as well, or feel free to share
your comments with us in the national office, as ACB will be seeking input
from our members as we prepare our comments.
In the meantime please see the full text of the notice below.
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Meaningful Access to United States Currency for Blind and Visually Impaired
AGENCY: Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of the Treasury.
ACTION: Notice of proposed agency action and request for public comments.
SUMMARY: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing (BEP) are issuing this Notice pursuant to the ruling
in American Council of the Blind v. Paulson that ordered Treasury to
provide meaningful access to U.S. currency to people who are blind and
visually impaired pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, as amended. BEP seeks to develop a solution that fully complies with
the Court's order and provides people who are blind and visually impaired
meaningful access to U.S. currency, while also giving appropriate
consideration to the interests of domestic and international users of
currency, U.S. businesses, and cash handling and cash-intensive industries.
The purposes of this Federal Register Notice are to inform the public of
the features that BEP intends to propose to the Secretary of the Treasury
to accommodate people who are blind and visually impaired in denominating
U.S. currency, and to solicit public comment on the proposed
DATES: Submit comments on or before August 18, 2010.
ADDRESSES: See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for meeting addresses and
information about submitting public comments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Gano, 202-874-1200.
By statute, the Secretary of the Treasury has sole authority for approving
designs of U.S. Federal Reserve notes (U.S. currency). To develop the
designs, Treasury works in collaboration with the Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve System (Board) and the Department of Homeland Security's
United States Secret Service (USSS), through the Advanced Counterfeit
Deterrence (ACD) Steering Committee.\1\ As a general guideline, the ACD has
recommended that Treasury redesign Federal Reserve notes every seven to ten
years to deter counterfeiting by anticipating advances in technologies. The
most recent redesign of the currency commenced in 2003, and the final note
in that series of currency design is in production. As Treasury begins its
design plans for a new family of currency, Treasury and BEP will
incorporate additional features to accommodate people who are blind and
visually impaired. Although it is somewhat difficult to provide a specific
date or time frame as to when the redesign of this new family of currency
will be completed, BEP is required by the Court's order to "take such steps
as may be required to provide meaningful access to United States currency
for blind and other visually impaired persons * * * not later than the date
when a redesign of that denomination is next approved by the Secretary of
In anticipation of this endeavor, in January of 2008, BEP commissioned a
comprehensive study to (1) review and analyze the needs of the blind and
visually impaired relating to the identification of U.S. currency through
focus groups, surveys, and usability tests; (2) examine various methods
that might improve access to the currency by the blind and visually
impaired through discussions with subject matter experts, foreign currency
experts, and advocacy groups; (3) perform a cost impact analysis of
possible accommodations on various government and industry sectors; and (4)
provide a decision model, by which BEP could evaluate various potential
accommodations. See Final Report: Study to Address Options for Enabling the
Blind and Visually Impaired Community to Denominate U.S. Currency, July
2009 (Study), which can be found on the BEP Web site at
Although there are a wide variety of definitions and methodologies to
define blindness and visual impairment, the Study used the following
definitions: it defined blind individuals as those who have no useful
vision for reading any amount of print, and visually impaired individuals
as those who have difficulty seeing but are able to read some print (with
or without corrective lenses).
Summary of Proposed Design Modifications ` Based upon the Study's findings
and BEP's own expertise in manufacturing U.S. currency, BEP proposes to
recommend to the Secretary of the Treasury the following:
I. Tactile Feature. As part of the next currency redesign, BEP will develop
and deploy a raised tactile feature that builds upon current tactile
feature technologies. The tactile feature will be unique to each Federal
Reserve note denomination that it may lawfully change, and will provide
users with a means of identifying each denomination by way of touch.\2\
II. Large, High-Contrast Numerals. Consistent with current practice, BEP
will continue its practice of adding large, high-contrast numerals and
different and distinct color schemes to each denomination that it is
permitted by law to alter to further assist visually impaired citizens.
III. Supplemental Currency Reader Program. BEP also proposes to recommend
to the Secretary of the Treasury a supplemental measure that will be taken
in order to provide access to U.S. currency. This measure would involve a
process to loan and distribute currency readers to the blind and visually
impaired at no cost to them. BEP believes this process will ameliorate
difficulties stemming from the transition that will occur during the
co-circulation of notes with and without a tactile feature and large, high
contrast numerals, a transition which will persist for many years after the
introduction of the tactile- enhanced note.
In addition, BEP will continue to explore emerging technological solutions
to provide access to U.S. currency, such as the development of software to
enable blind and visually impaired individuals to fully access U.S.
currency. Some of the options include the development and deployment of
assistive software to enable banknote denomination using cellular phones,
computers, and imaging and reading devices.
I. Tactile Feature: BEP will develop and incorporate a raised tactile
feature that will accommodate people who are blind and visually impaired.
This feature will enable blind and visually impaired individuals to
identify currency by touching the tactile feature. The Study demonstrated
that raised tactile features allow most blind and visually impaired
individuals to denominate currency. Indeed, this kind of feature is used in
some foreign currency, and the Study's data indicated that this feature was
more effective than virtually every other kind of accommodation tested,
including different-sized notes. Additionally, a raised tactile feature
would not cause a major disruption to the general population because the
notes will not appear substantially different from their current form.
BEP recognizes that implementing a raised tactile feature will pose some
challenges. First, the Study showed that current tactile technology wears
out eventually, so the effectiveness of the feature diminishes over time.
In addition, the Study showed that a raised tactile feature would impose
costs on both government and industry. For example, some major cash
handlers expressed concern over stacking, mechanical counting, examination,
and finishing processes of notes with raised tactile features. The banking
industry echoed the major cash handlers' concern of equipment malfunctions
caused by jams and added concerns that increased jams would require higher
inventory levels with associated increased carrying costs to ensure
sufficient cash would be available at all times. In addition, BEP will need
to put forth a comprehensive public education program for all users of U.S.
currency to acquaint them with the new tactile feature.
The selection of the raised tactile feature will require additional
targeted research, testing, and consideration of the public comments.
Nonetheless, the significant benefits of notes with a tactile feature,
including the excellent accuracy results the blind and visually impaired
achieved with them, the ease of use evidenced both by the usability tests
and applicable scientific research, and the relatively minimal impact on
the general U.S. population, supports the inclusion of a raised tactile
feature as a recommended accommodation despite its challenges. Based on
experience, independent research, and the Study, BEP believes it can
develop a raised tactile feature that is durable and can be incorporated
into its existing manufacturing systems at a reasonable cost, coincident
with the introduction of the next design series of U.S. currency.
BEP invites comment on its proposal to incorporate raised tactile features
in the next redesign of its currency.
II. Large, High-Contrast Numerals: BEP began incorporating large,
high-contrast numerals into Federal Reserve notes beginning with the Series
1996 design $50 note in October 1997. In March 2008, BEP increased the size
of the large high contrast numeral with the introduction of the Series 2006
$5 note. The feedback received from visually impaired individuals has been
positive. This feature will be continued in the new-design $100 note, which
is the last in the Series 2004 family of designs. Because BEP has
experience printing this feature and the visually impaired community has
provided positive feedback on it, BEP proposes to continue using this
feature in the next design for U.S. currency. BEP is aware, however, that
there may be a number of options concerning the size, color, placement,
background contrast and other features for these large numerals that may
improve accessibility of currency for persons with low-vision. BEP invites
comment from the public, including persons with low-vision, about the best
choices for the proposed large, high-contrast numerals.
III. Supplemental Currency Reader Program: BEP will establish a
supplemental currency reader distribution program. The purpose of the
program is to provide blind and visually impaired people a means that can
be used independently to correctly identify the denomination of U.S.
currency. In compliance with legal requirements, BEP will loan a currency
reader device to all blind and visually impaired U.S. citizens and legal
residents, who wish to avail themselves of this program. The individual may
borrow the reader for as long as the individual desires the assistance of
the reader. Before a reader is distributed, BEP first will verify that the
requestor is eligible.
Under the reader program, individuals who are United States citizens or
persons legally residing in the United States who are blind or visually
impaired and who need a reader to accurately identify the denomination of
U.S. currency will be able to obtain a reader at no cost to the individual.
BEP will define blind or visually impaired under the same definition as the
Study, with the following change to the Study's definition of visual
impairment: The reader program will not extend to visually impaired
individuals whose impairment is corrected with ordinary eyeglasses or
BEP is considering the scope of an appropriate verification framework to
determine eligibility to receive a reader. Specifically, it is considering
a framework inspired by the eligibility requirements that the Library of
Congress uses when loaning library materials to blind and other disabled
persons as set forth in 36 CFR 701.6. Under that framework, applicants may
submit verification of their eligibility from a "competent authority." BEP
would define a "competent authority as one of the following: doctors of
medicine, doctors of osteopathy, doctors of optometry, registered nurses,
and licensed practical nurses.
Alternatively, if a person who is blind or visually impaired has
verification of visual impairment from another Federal agency, including
the Social Security Administration, the Library of Congress, or a State or
local agency, that person need only submit a copy of that verification. BEP
is inviting comments on whether this verification system is appropriate, or
whether other frameworks would be more appropriate.
Parents or legal guardians of a blind or visually impaired child under 18,
and caregivers, legal guardians, or those with power of attorney for a U.S.
citizen or someone legally residing in the U.S. may act as a proxy on
behalf of the blind or visually impaired child or represented individual
and request a currency reader. BEP will require verification for the child
or represented individual.
BEP will solicit and award a single, long-term contract to implement the
currency reader program. The contractor will be designated as the Currency
Reader Program Coordinator (CRPC). Once the program is operational, a
potentially eligible person may request a currency reader by contacting the
CRPC and completing and submitting a request form. Depending on the
verification framework adopted, upon verification of eligibility, the
person will be provided a reader. If an individual believes that the CRPC
erroneously denied him or her a reader, the individual may appeal the
decision to the appropriate authority at BEP, who will be designated after
BEP awards the CRPC contract.
Except for the postage to mail application forms to the CRPC, the user
should not have to expend any funds for the reader. Any fees for shipping
and the initial battery will be borne by the provider. Readers will be
delivered by mail. There will be a "one reader per verified eligible
person" limit. Though there is a "one reader" limit, an eligible individual
may receive a replacement reader from the CRPC upon request if the
circumstances, such as a lost, damaged, or obsolete reader, are reasonable
and warrant replacement.
The CRPC will also establish a selection of approved reader suppliers. BEP
anticipates that more than one reader supplier may be authorized by the
CRPC to provide readers and will seek to keep costs low by requiring
suppliers to meet the lowest price in order to be a program participant.
The CRPC shall:
1. Be responsible for overall implementation and operation of the program
pursuant to a government contract;
2. Have the program operational within six months after contract award;
3. Communicate with eligible persons via mail, Braille, e-mail, phone, fax,
TTY, and Web site;
4. Maintain a help desk for a minimum of ten hours a day, five days a week;
5. Be able quickly to scale up or down staffing resources to react to
demand on the program;
6. Accept requests for readers;
7. Verify eligibility, using the appropriate criteria;
8. Within three weeks of receiving a request, either provide a reader to a
requester deemed eligible or inform said person that he or she does not
meet the eligibility criteria;
9. Establish a formal CRPC Authorized Supplier Program, with documented
contractual controls and agreements between the CRPC and each supplier;
10. Monitor each supplier's operation;
11. Certify each supplier's reader products;
12. Publicize a list of approved suppliers and products;
13. Establish payment mechanisms for authorized suppliers;
14. Evaluate and possibly add new reader suppliers as they enter the
15. Suspend reader suppliers if they fail to perform;
16. Establish internal controls to assist BEP in preventing fraud, waste,
and abuse; and obtain an annual independently verified SAS-70 Report (Type
II) of those controls;
17. Maintain a database of each person who requested a reader, was issued a
reader, or was denied a reader, and for readers issued, which reader
(including its serial number) was issued to which person;
18. Implement privacy controls; and
19. Ensure that all CRPC Authorized Suppliers are able and contractually
a. Provide a reader that quickly and accurately denominates U.S. currency;
b. Interact with verified eligible persons via mail, Braille, e- mail,
phone, fax, TTY, and Web site;
c. Provide readers directly to verified eligible persons if necessary;
d. Provide accessible instructional materials on how to use the reader;
e. Provide readers that use a non-proprietary battery;
f. Provide readers with unique serial numbers for accountability;
g. Provide at least a one-year parts and labor warranty on each reader;
h. Provide free return postage for malfunctioning readers and for warranty
i. Recognize that the selection of a reader is based on the free market and
personal choice and that there is no minimum quantity of readers that the
government guarantees from any supplier.
BEP will assess the structure of this program on a continuing basis and
implement changes as needed to enhance its effectiveness or efficiency.
The Board pays BEP for its currency-related expenses, which are primarily
the costs of producing new currency. BEP's costs associated with
incorporating the proposed tactile and large, high-contrast numeral
features would be funded by the Board, as are the costs of other design
elements for U.S. currency. BEP plans also to charge the Board for the
costs associated with the proposed currency readers. Because the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia determined that BEP is required
by the Rehabilitation Act to provide meaningful access to U.S. currency,
BEP believes these costs represent a necessary expense that may be
appropriately charged to the Board.
Questions for Comment
Treasury welcomes all comments and suggestions regarding the proposed
solutions. Treasury is particularly interested, however, in comments on the
specific questions set forth below:
1. What would be the ideal placement of the raised tactile feature? In what
kind of pattern or patterns should the raised tactile feature be arranged?
2. How should the large, high contrast numerals be incorporated? In other
words, what colors should BEP use, what is the optimal size of the
numerals, and where should the numerals be placed on the note?
3. What background colors would provide the highest color contrast for
people who are visually impaired?
4. What technological solutions should BEP explore to help people who are
blind and visually impaired denominate currency?
5. What is the nature of the burden, if any, on the general public of
including a raised tactile feature on U.S. currency?
6. If there are any burdens imposed on the public by a raised tactile
feature on currency, how can such burdens be minimized?
7. What is the nature of the burden, if any, on industry and business of
including a raised tactile feature on U.S. currency?
8. If there are such burdens, how can they be minimized?
9. Does the supplemental currency reader program impose a burden on the
blind and visually impaired?
10. If so, what are those burdens, and how can they be minimized?
11. Does a verification process of the currency reader program inspired by
the Library of Congress process impose too a great a burden on the blind
and visually impaired?
12. If so, what are those burdens, and how can they be minimized?
13. Alternatively, if a person who is blind or visually impaired has
verification of visual impairment from another Federal agency (such as the
Social Security Administration or Library of Congress), or a State or local
agency, should BEP allow that person to submit a copy of that verification
in order to satisfy a proof of visual impairment requirement in order to
obtain a currency reader? If so, what burdens might this impose, and how
can those burdens be minimized?
14. Should BEP consider working with local governments and/or State
agencies to deliver the currency readers?
15. Should BEP consider additional or different criteria when determining
eligibility for the currency reader program?
16. What administrative and/or operational challenges does the currency
reader program create?
Electronic Submission of Comments, Electronic Access and Mailing Address
Regulations.gov offers the public the ability to comment on, search, and
view publicly available rulemaking materials, including comments received
on rules. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments. You may
also e-mail electronic comments to meaningful.access at bep.gov. You may fax
comments to 202-874-1212. Please mail any written comments to Meaningful
Access, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Office of External Relations,
14th and C Streets, SW., Room 530-1M, Washington, DC 20228.
In general, comments received will be published on Regulations.gov without
change, including any business or personal information provided. Comments
received, including attachments and other supporting materials, are part of
the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not enclose any
information in your comment or supporting materials that you consider
confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure.
You may also inspect and copy comments at: Treasury Department Library,
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) collection, Room 1428, Main Treasury
Building, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20220. Before
visiting, you must call (202) 622-0990 for an appointment.
BEP will host two open public forums simultaneously on June 22, 2010. One
will be held at the Eastern Currency Facility (14th and C Streets, SW.,
Washington, DC 20228) and the other at the Western Currency Facility (9000
Blue Mound Road, Ft. Worth, TX 76131). BEP representatives will be
available to discuss the proposed accommodations for meaningful access and
to hear public comment. Registration to attend the public forum (at either
the Washington, DC or Fort Worth, TX facility) must be made by calling
(877) 874-4114. Because the BEP is a secure Federal installation, all
attendees must pre-register for the public forum by providing their name
and are subject to magnetometer inspection and their bags are subject to
x-ray prior to entering and upon exiting the facility. To ensure your
access, please notify BEP of your intent to attend by 5 p.m., EDT on June
Larry R. Felix,
[FR Doc. 2010-12091 Filed 5-19-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4840-01-P
\1\ The ACD Steering Committee was established by charter in 1982 to
recommend designs to the Secretary of the Treasury for Federal Reserve
notes. The ACD Steering Committee is chaired by the Treasury's Under
Secretary for Domestic Finance. Its members include the senior
representatives from the Department of the Treasury, Treasury's Bureau of
Engraving and Printing, the Federal Reserve System, and the USSS.
\2\ The Department of the Treasury is not permitted to redesign the $1
note. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, Public Law 111- 8, Section
111, states that "None of the funds appropriated in this Act or otherwise
available to the Department of the Treasury or the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing may be used to redesign the $1 Federal Reserve note." In addition,
the Court's October 3, 2008 order explicitly excluded the $1 note and the
soon to be released $100 note.
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