Profs contributed to new $10 bill

The new bills feature texture patches designed by Dr. Susan Lederman which are designed to assist visually-impaired Canadians.
The new bills feature texture patches designed by Dr. Susan Lederman which are designed to assist visually-impaired Canadians.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of the Globe and Mail

The blind and visually impaired may find reading Canadian bank notes a great deal easier now that raised “texture patches,” invented by Queen’s psychologist Dr. Susan Lederman will appear on new bills, which were launched earlier this week.

“It’s a wonderfully exciting project,” commented Lederman, an expert in understanding how human beings perceive the world through the sense of touch. She researched, designed and scientifically tested the durable tactile feature that has been added to the new bank notes produced by the Bank of Canada. Currently, those with total visual impairment must rely on electronic readers, which convert optical patterns to identify bills. The new patch will allow visually impaired people to identify bills by hand, yet will not interfere with the bills design esthetics or cause problems with automatic sorting and stacking machines. Working in partnership with the Bank of Canada and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Lederman was also aided in researching the new tactile device by her assistant Cheryl Hamilton and two undergraduate psychology classes at the University.

“The Bank of Canada and the CNIB, as well and the Canadian Bank Note Company, were tremendously helpful and the students were very jazzed by the opportunity to experience basic research in action,” commented Lederman.

Lederman and her group tested 70 different texture patches for ease and speed of identification. After settling on eight possible designs, these patches were tested by CNIB-registered subjects in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

The final design is a series of three rows of raised dots in two columns. The pattern repeats itself as the denomination of the bill increases. “It’s easily recognized by the fingers and its distinctive,” explained Lederman.

“I believe it’s going to make a difference for Canadians with visual impairments.”

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