Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Franklin Bill Reader

While there’s little doubt that United States paper currency has gotten prettier, that doesn’t matter much for the blind and visually impaired. If you can’t see the bill, you still can’t tell whether you’re holding a one or a one hundred.

The Treasury says that by adding color to some bills, people with low vision have an easier time discriminating between denominations. But a 2008 court ruling found that the federal government discriminated against the blind by not making bills of different sizes, as virtually every other country besides the United States already does.

To help ease the way until the United States finally creates accessible paper currency, Franklin Electronics is marketing the Franklin Bill Reader, a handheld device that uses object recognition technology to identify a bill’s denomination and speak the result to the user in English or Spanish.

The Bill Reader can identify any paper currency between $1 and $100. It can recognize all current and recent series of bills; when new redesigned versions are issued, those identifying markers can be downloaded from the company’s Web site into the device (but only if you’re using a Windows PC).

The Bill Reader is controlled by voice commands, and its answers can be heard through the built-in loudspeaker or via a pair of wired earbuds.

Click this link to learn more about the Franklin Bill Reader.

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