On 20 February 2020, the Bank of England’s new £20 note came into circulation with tactile markings to help make it easy for blind and partially sighted people to decipher it from existing £5 and £10 notes.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has been working with the Bank of England for many years to make money accessible for people with sight loss, with the new polymer note featuring acclaimed artist JMW Turner.
The new note has tactile markings on it with three separate clusters of dots along the short edge to differentiate it from the £10 note, which has two clusters of dots. Visually, it is purple in colour with a clear 20 on a white background and is larger than both the £10 and £5 notes.
David Clarke, RNIB Director of Services, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the Bank of England once more on the redesign of the new £20 banknote with accessibility in mind.
“Handling cash can often be a challenge if you’re blind or partially sighted, because it can be difficult to tell the difference between the different notes and coins. We hope the creation of these notes will help enable people with sight loss to use money more easily and with confidence. By incorporating tactile features on money, we are closer to creating a more inclusive society; it’s the small changes that can make a big difference to independent living.”
Sarah John, Chief Cashier at the Bank of England, said making banknotes out of polymer allowed it to introduce the new tactile feature, “Making currency accessible to everyone in society is something that’s incredibly important to us. For quite a long time our banknotes have been different sizes and colours to help people with sight loss recognise the different denominations of notes. The move to polymer allows us to go a step further and introduce a tactile feature, which we are pleased to have developed in partnership with the RNIB.”
David Clarke added: “We had over 50 blind and partially sighted people involved in rigorous user testing during the new note’s development. We will continue to work with the Bank of England to make new notes accessible in the future. Our work with them demonstrates how RNIB can help organisations make their products and services accessible for people with sight loss.”