Australia is putting braille on its new $5 notes. Your move, America.

Australia is putting braille on its new $5 notes. Your move, America.
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

In an effort to make currency more accessible to blind people, Australia will start using braille on its new $5 bank notes starting Thursday.

According to 9 News, teenager Connor McLeod, who's blind, and his mother Ally Lancaster launched a petition four years ago, asking the Reserve Bank of Australia to include "tactile markings" on the country's currency to indicate their denomination. Eventually, all notes will include the raised dots.

"We have braille on toilets, we have tactile features on bus stops, but we don't have it on our national currency, and that is something we use every day," Lancaster told the Australian Associated Press, according to 9 News.

A close-up of the Australian $5 note shows two raised dots.
Source: 
Handout/Getty Images

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, McLeod said he was inspired to fight for the cause when he realized that even though he could do most everything else — rock climb, swim, play the drums and keyboard, ride a bike — he still struggled with one basic everyday task.

"At Christmas 2012, some folks gave me money, and I had to ask Mum how much I had been given," remembered McLeod. "I told her how annoyed I was that there was no way for the blind community to tell the denomination of bank notes."

In addition to petitioning the Reserve Bank of Australia about the currency itself, McLeod approached the Commonwealth Bank, requesting the addition of a text-to-speech feature on the country's electronic payment machines (known as Eftpos).

McLeod received the National Braille Press' Hands On! award for his efforts, but according to 9 News, the biggest winners will be Australia's roughly 360,000 blind citizens.

Bruce Maguire, Vision Australia's lead policy adviser told the outlet, "I think the introduction of the tactile feature on banknotes is the biggest inclusive effort that I have seen in my lifetime."

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Marie Solis

Marie is a staff writer with a focus in feminist issues. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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