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Design Challenge: Money For The Visually Impaired


I came across
this article online that I found quite fascinating. I'd never thought of how paper money could be discriminatory because I'm able to see it. But imagine reaching into your wallet and not being sure what your handing over.

Interestingly enough, the
new $5 bill released into circulation in March has a large number 5 on the back which helps the visually impaired. This site from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has lots of really interesting information and interactive tools, be sure to check it out.


While some people think that the design of the bill and US money is abhorrent, I disagree. I like the use of color and many different elements, all to deter counterfeiters. The story behind the design is why I find the money most fascinating, that's what made me a fan of the notes. I believe that a lot of time and effort has gone into the design. I understand the argument that it's the US Government, they have money to change it and make it look pretty so why don't they? After poking around the Treasury Department's website I found
this:

"The Department of the Treasury has historically continued to honor previous designs of our currency. Furthermore, the Department has never recalled currency when introducing a new design. There are billions of dollars in U.S. currency circulating worldwide. Any new design, when issued, would enter circulation in a deliberate and organized way, avoiding any recall or exchange. This will ensure the continued confidence of people in the value of the U.S. currency they now possess."

(Cheesy) video on the new $5:



The number one goal of redesign (which happens every 7-8 years) is to maintain confidence in U.S. currency. Billions of dollars in money are out there, 60% of it abroad, it's something people see and use every day. Imagine if it all changed suddenly. Redesigning the currency is done in partnership with the Federal Reserve System, the Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Secret Service. The Secretary of the Treasury establishes the design and appearance of the U.S. Currency. Have you even worked in government or a bureaucracy? Yeah, that's one reason why there hasn't been any huge changes in money. So, if you want prettier money, one of us designers needs to become the Secretary of the Treasury.


In the end though, it seems that paper money may be going the way of the typewriter. Years ago Mexico and
Australia traded in paper money for plastic. The U.S. has even tested different ideas to replace paper money. What would those designs look like? Mobile phones can double as credit cards now. In 2005 purchases with cards topped cash purchase...are we headed for a cashless society where everything is electronic?

In the short term, I hope a resolution can be found to help the visually impaired. Yes that would be a design challenge but just because something poses obstacles doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. In the long term, this topic may be a moot point as more and more people use debit and credit cards for purchases.

The next bill up for a new design is the $100, one of the only denominations that I carry.

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