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NLS: That All May Read

Bureau of Engraving and Printing U.S. Currency Reader Program


The pocket-sized iBill Talking Banknote Identifier.
The currency reader with a $20 bill inserted.

NLS has partnered with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in support of its U.S. Currency Reader Program, which provides currency-reader devices, free of charge, to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The program is part of the government’s Meaningful Access Initiative to assist individuals who experience difficulties identifying U.S. currency.

The currency reader, called the iBill Talking Banknote Identifier, is a compact device that announces a note’s value by voice, pattern of tones, or pattern of vibrations. Users insert a bill into the device and press the button on the device’s side to have the denomination identified. The currency reader does not identify foreign or counterfeit banknotes.

The size of a key fob, it can be carried in a pocket or purse, clipped to a belt, or attached to a keychain or lanyard. It operates on a single AAA battery, which typically lasts for more than a year. The initial battery is included.

A pilot initiative is currently underway through which eligible NLS patrons may pre-order a currency reader through December 31, 2014. To pre-order, patrons must call their local braille and talking-book library or 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) and say “library” to be connected to their nearest braille and talking book library. The library staff will note the patron’s account and a currency reader will be mailed “free matter for the blind” to the on-file address when the device becomes available.

Eligible individuals who wish to receive free library service from NLS may download an application at http://www.loc.gov/nls/pdf/application.pdf or call 1-888-NLS-READ and follow the aforementioned procedures to request the form from their nearest braille and talking-book library.

All other eligible individuals may apply for a currency reader after January 2, 2015, when the national rollout begins. The application—which can be downloaded below—must be filled out completely, signed by a competent authority who can certify eligibility, and returned to the mailing address provided on the form. 

To learn more about the U.S. Currency Reader Program or other aspects of the U.S. government’s initiative to provide meaningful access to U.S. currency or if the device is not functioning, call 1-844-815-9388, e-mail meaningful.access@bep.gov, or visit www.bep.gov.


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Posted on 2015-10-19