Blind people facing serious issues with new note size and colour, initiate online petition, social media campaign
The new notes introduced by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) post demonetisation are proving to be very difficult for blinds due to almost similar sizes. While old notes had a difference of 10mm, either in width or length in each denomination, for new notes this has been reduced to 4mm. In fact, the old Rs20 note and new Rs200 notes have identical sizes and orange colour, making it difficult for persons with low vision to identify and make appropriate transactions. 
 
Usually as set practice, blind people identify currency notes by its sizes, while people with low vision and illiterate people identify notes by its colour. After trying to get the RBI to see reason, various organisations working with the blind have decided to go public with their frustration. Our sources tell us that one way to reduce the problem is for the RBI to withdraw old and tattered notes faster. 
 
Noted Advocate and Solicitor Kanchan Pamnani says, "The international standard for difference in currency note sizes is 5mm. However, in new currency notes of Rs50 and Rs200, the difference is just 4mm. We heard that the new Rs100 note that is being proposed will have a difference of just 2mm when aligned with Rs50 or Rs200 note. There is already a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Court and we will intervene in this matter on 30 October 2017."
 
Earlier in 2009 and 2011, the RBI had held consultative meetings with associations of blind people. It even sought answers from non-governmental organisation (NGOs) in 2015 on the new design and size of currency notes. "However, to no avail-they listen, sympathise and assure but do the wrong thing," Adv Pamnani says.
 
The Blind Graduates Forum of India has even started an online petition (Sign the Petition here) and campaign on social media seeking accessible Indian currency. They says, "With this petition, we urge the society to come together as a whole and contribute towards making the lives of fellow citizens much more independent. Before you go ahead and support us by signing this petition, please close your eyes and take any of the new denominations in your hand for example Rs200 and Rs20, or coins of Re1 and Rs2. Try to identify the difference between the two. It is also important to understand that the difficulty increases as the currency gets older with all the folds caused due to repeated use."
 
People with 100% visual impairment require notes with different sizes and tactile marks that can they can feel easily by touching the currency note. Individuals with low vision need contrast colours and large fonts to identity currency note denomination. However, "Most of our bank notes and coins are difficult for the blind to identify. The new notes have multiplied the challenge. Digital currency still remains inaccessible though they can use computers and apps using assistive technology," the Petition says.
 
While blind entrepreneurs are taxpayers and job creators, the Government and RBI have created an unnecessary scenario by introducing inaccessible currency, which makes them dependent again. 
 
Quoting a blind entrepreneur, the Petition says, "I run my business. I have to deal with numerous transactions on a daily basis. Once I happen to give an Rs500 note instead of Rs20 note. The customer happily took it. I came to know about it only when my father told me about this. I am unaware as to how many times I might have done something like this.”
 
A visually impaired working professional, was quoted as saying, "I use computers, websites and mobile apps at work every day, but most of the bank websites and mobile apps are inaccessible for us. Despite earning a handsome monthly salary, such environment creates bias among people and compels me to repeatedly prove my abilities."
 
The Petition is addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, RBI Governor Dr Urjit Patel, Director of Coin and Currency sections in the Ministry of Finance and Secretary in the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. 
 
The Petition seeks intervention from the government on five issues...
 
1. Concern: No variation in size of different bank notes.
 
The earlier notes had sufficiently different size. Hence, blind people did not face significant challenges to identify them. However, the difference in length of newly introduced notes has been reduced from 10mm to 4mm. Width of all new notes is the same. Difference of 4mm in length is almost impossible to identify by touch alone.
 
Proposed Solution: Maintain at least 10mm difference in size - length and width.
 
2. Concern: Imperceptible bleed lines / tactile marking.
 
Bleed line or tactile marking have been introduced in the new notes for Blind. However, they are not perceptible and fade away with use.
 
Proposed Solution: Bleed lines on polymer notes are perceptible, and not on paper notes. So shift to polymer notes. Withdraw the new Rs50 and Rs100 notes on priority and introduce notes with at least 10mm variation and easily perceptible markings that does not fade with use.
 
3. Concern: No variation in shape, size and colour in coins.
 
Coins have always been inaccessible for long due to lack of standardization. Often a newly launched coin is very similar to an old coin of a different value.
 
Proposed Solution: Adopt different shape, size and colour. Withdraw old cpoins of Re1, Rs2 and Rs5.
 
4. Concern: Inaccessible banking websites and apps
 
Visually impaired people use assistive technology like screen reading software, magnifiers to use computers and mobile phones. However, most websites and apps does not comply with accessibility standards for those technologies to work.
 
Proposed Solution: Make it mandatory for all websites to comply with Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. Make it mandatory for all apps to comply with BBC Mobile Accessibility Guidelines.
 
5. Concern: Inaccessible ATMs
 
RBI successfully introduced accessible ATMs in India. However, the number of ATMs remains low and many do not comply accessibility guidelines issued by Indian Banks' Association (IBA).
 
Proposed Solution: All ATMs need to be accessible for all persons with disabilities. 
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    COMMENTS

    Brinda Upadhyaya

    2 years ago

    This change to make currency user-friendly for the visually impaired must be brought in absolutely urgently.

    Excise duty on petrol, diesel cut by Rs 2 per litre
    Facing all round severe criticism, the government on Tuesday night slashed the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre -- effective Wednesday -- which is expected to bring down the retail selling prices of the two fuels.
     
    According to the government, the decision to reduce the "Basic Excise Duty" rate on petrol and diesel has been taken to cushion the impact of rise in international crude prices.
     
    The decision will cost the exchequer Rs 13,000 crore during the remaining part of the fiscal and Rs 26,000 crore for the full year.
     
    As per the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas's calculations, the reduction in excise duty will decrease prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 2.50 and Rs 2.25 per litre respectively in New Delhi. 
     
    "This measure would help reducing the prices of petrol and diesel and giving relief to consumers," the Ministry said in a statement.
     
    "As a result of reduction in excise duty, the decrease in prices of petrol and diesel will be Rs 2.50 per litre and Rs 2.25 per litre respectively at Delhi." 
     
    Informed sources told IANS here that the reduction in retail prices will "likely be reflected" from Wednesday morning.
     
    The three state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) -- Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation -- revise prices of petrol and diesel on a daily basis and these are announced at 6 a.m.
     
    Currently, an excise duty component of Rs 21.48 per litre is levied upon petrol -- and, consequent to the reduction in excise duty, this will come down to Rs 19.48.
     
    In case of diesel, Rs 17.33 excise is charged per litre -- this will come down to Rs 15.33 per litre.
     
    On Tuesday, the retail selling price of petrol in New Delhi was pegged at Rs 70.88, while that for diesel was at Rs 59.14 per litre.
     
    In effect, the government decision will act as a check against retail prices going up in case global crude rates rise further. 
     
    "The Government of India has decided to reduce the basic excise duty rate on petrol and diesel [both branded and unbranded] by Rs 2 per litre with effect from 4th October, 2017," a Finance Ministry statement here said. 
     
    "This decision has been taken by the government in order to cushion the impact of rising international prices of crude petroleum oil and petrol and diesel on retail sale prices of petrol and diesel, as well as to protect the interest of common man," the statement said. 
     
    "The revenue loss on account of these reductions in excise duty is about Rs 26,000 crore in a full year, and about Rs 13,000 crore during the remaining part of the current financial year," it said. 
     
    Earlier, due to the increase in the international prices of petrol and diesel during the last few weeks, the retail selling prices of petrol and diesel in Delhi have risen to Rs 70.83 a litre and Rs 59.07 per litre, respectively, as on October 2. 
     
    This rise in the prices of petrol and diesel is also reflected in WPI inflation, which has increased to 3.24 per cent for the month of August 2017, as compared to 1.88 per cent for the month of July 2017, which prompted the government to act swiftly, it added. 
     
    Opposition parties have been critical of the government that petrol prices have been ruling high and it has not cut excise on fuels despite international prices rising recently. 
     
    When crude prices were falling dramatically over the last two years, the government, since 2015, hiked excise on petrol by Rs 12 a litre, and on diesel by over Rs 13, in instalments.
     
    Last month, petrol prices in Mumbai, for instance, crossed levels it had touched before the Narendra Modi government took charge in 2014. In response to criticism on rising fuel prices, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan clarified that the excise revenues served for spending on social development schemes.
     
    He also ruled out any change in the present system of market-determined pricing. 
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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