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Visually impaired not able to use banknotes’

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 10:55 -- geeta.nair

Plea in HC seeks standards for design; RBI’s reply sought

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought responses from the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on a plea seeking to lay down standards for design of banknotes and coins and make all forms of physical currency and digital means of transactions accessible to the visually impaired.

A Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao sought response of the Centre and the central bank on the plea filed by an organisation working for empowerment of visually impaired persons.

The plea also sought a direction to the government to stop circulation and withdraw, in a phased manner, the inaccessible physical currency. The members of the NGO, Blind Graduates Forum of India, talked about the difficulty being faced by the visually impaired in identifying the currency, which was introduced post-demonitisation, and difficulty in distinguishing coins.

The NGO had sent a detailed representation in 2017 to the RBI Governor highlighting the major challenges being faced by the visually impaired and gave suggestions factoring in inputs from several blind and low vision individuals.

New ₹100 note

Despite the assurances given to the petitioner, the RBI introduced the new ₹100 note, dimensions of which were once again not visually-impaired friendly.

Currently, the visually impaired are facing a situation where neither the physical currency nor digital means of financial transactions are accessible, the plea said.

The NGO said that it received a mail from the RBI stating that the bank was sensitive to the challenges faced by the visually impaired, but believed that technological advancement had opened up new avenues for identification of currency by the visually impaired and accordingly, they are working on the same.

The petition said the plea was filed on behalf of over 52 lakh visually impaired persons in India who are facing immense hardship owing to inaccessibility of physical Indian currency along with inaccessible means of digital transactions and it has a direct negative impact on the independence and livelihood of such people.

The plea sought direction to the authorities to lay down standards as per the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act for banking services, portals, apps, payment gateways, hardware devices like ATM, point of sale devices, self-service passbook printers and cash collection devices to make them accessible to the visually impaired within six months.

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