In 2012, Connor Mcleod started a petition asking government to change the face of Australia’s currency. Today, a brand new five dollar note will be released into circulation, featuring tactile features that will assist the visually impaired with distinguishing between notes.
Connor, like most other visually impaired people, found it incredibly hard to distinguish between notes, often avoiding their use and sticking to coins instead.
“We have braille on toilets, we have tactile features on bus stops, but we don’t have it on our national currency, and that is something we use everyday,” Connor’s mother Ally Lancaster told AAP.
The petition, which garnered 57,000 signatures gained bipartisan support, a result that Connor and his family were completely taken aback by.
In an open letter Connor wrote for news.com.au, he expressed his joy over the release, speaking out against those who have labeled the new design “ugly”:
“The part I played in its design you probably can’t see, but I can feel. It has tactile markings on it. I’m so excited to run my fingers over those bumps on the note and mentally count, in my mind, to five as I do it.
“Before today, I could only tell the difference between coins. That’s fine for the tuck shop, but what about when I get older? Mum won’t be around forever to help me. I realised I’d need to learn how to use notes, because — hopefully — when I’m older, I’ll have more money than just coins to deal with!”
The new five dollar note will feature raised dots roughly the size of a ‘hundreds and thousands’ sprinkle on each corner of the note.
Lead policy advisor for Vision Australia, Bruce Maguire, voiced his elation at the decision made by government to be more inclusive of the visually impaired community.
“I think the introduction of the tactile feature on banknotes is the biggest inclusive effort that I have seen in my lifetime,” he told AAP.
“None of us who are blind have been able to identify notes accurately by touch before and that is something that everybody takes for granted.”
The reserve bank of Australia has said that all notes in the future will feature identifying dots to make them easily distinguishable, but for now, the five dollar note is the only one in circulation.
Watch Connor’s inspiring speech below.