THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rajesh R traces the features of the notes with his fingers. “Is it a Rs 20 note or the new Rs 2,000?” he asks.
Rajesh, a visually-impaired person, who had served as a trainer at the Kerala Federation of the Blind, was assisted by another senior trainer Anil Kumar in the experiment but both differed on the identification. Demonetisation and the subsequent introduction of new currency notes have made life tougher for the visually-challenged, who identify notes based on their familiarity with it. So far they used to check for the differences in dimensions and intaglio (raised) printing.
This time their efforts come a cropper. “Our experience is not of much use with the new currency notes,” Rajesh said. “This is because dimensions of the Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes feel the same as Rs 20 and Rs 10 notes. Even those with vision are sometimes confused.”
Intaglio printing and angular bleed lines are the features introduced by the Reserve Bank of India to make the new notes friendly to the visually challenged. According to Anil, intaglio printing helps to some extent. “Over years of usage, the tactile sensation of intaglio print on a note decreases. So similar-dimension notes spell trouble as we can no longer distinguish between them based on their length and width,” he said.
The situation is worse when there are more notes in hand. The identification trouble is not limited to notes.
“Shapes and borders of coins used to be different too. But now Rs 2, Rs 1 and 50 paise coins are similar.”
After demonetisation, short-term courses by the Kerala Federation of the Blind (KFB)’s Insight Project on using mobile applications to pay have become popular among the visually challenged.
“We have conducted over 60 sessions in the state. We are getting queries to conduct more classes,” James Mathew, coordinator of Insight, said.
The clean note policy of RBI, which advises banks and public not to scribble on notes, could have an adverse effect on the visually challenged if implemented strictly.
“A visually-challenged person has difficulty knowing whether there are scribbles on the note or not,” James said. The rules have been relaxed for now.