BSP to put Braille on money

Published July 22, 2021, 5:40 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Philippine banknotes may soon contain Braille writing for the blind or visually-impaired, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“The BSP is now exploring the addition of Braille functionality to Philippine banknotes, which aims to benefit as many as 2.5 million visually impaired Filipinos,” the BSP said in a statement on Thursday.

Previously, the central bank has been studying to put Braille on coins.

Braille is a system of raised dots or cells that can be traced by the fingertips of the blind or visually-impaired to read. It was first developed in 1821 by French educator and inventor Louis Braille.

At the moment, the country’s banknotes are designed to be more user-friendly and with features that would help the visually-impaired identify and differentiate the currencies such as enhanced intaglio-printed with an embossed feel.

Last July 2020, the BSP introduced enhanced tactile marks to aid the elderly and the visually impaired to identify the banknotes.

The BSP has been issuing memos and statements this past week emphasizing the importance of respecting the rights of persons with disability (PWDs). About 1.57 percent or 1.443 million Filipinos are PWDs, based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

During the recent webinar for the 43rd National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, the BSP reaffirmed its commitment to “continuously engage the sector and better respond to the needs of PWDs,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.

“Empowering vulnerable sectors has always been an underlying objective of the BSP’s efforts. For this reason, we are stepping up our financial inclusion efforts to ensure financial services are within easy reach for all Filipinos, including PWDs,” said Diokno.

Last July 16, the BSP issued a strong reminder to all banks to uphold the rights of PWDs as financial consumers and clients. The memo directed all BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to refrain from PWD discriminatory practices such as but not limited to the system of not accepting government-issued PWD identification cards as sufficient IDs for the opening of accounts and other financial transactions.

The BSP has also directed all BSFIs to not discourage or to turn away visually impaired persons from opening bank accounts by “requiring the visually impaired customers to open only joint (“and/or”) accounts” which Fonacier said is discriminatory.

The BSP also reminding all BSFIs to make sure that they have installed mobility ramps and Braille system in bank premises and automated teller machines or ATMs.