Monday, July 28, 2008

Absurd... Our Canada?!

Now, I love a good bit of absurdity. I love SCTV, Carry On movies have always amused me. Some British series like the Vicar of Dibley and Man About the House amuse me. They are absurd.

But sometimes real life is absurd too. Let me set up the scene for you.

Canada has issued a couple of series of bills which are embossed with raised dots - our $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills in a new series of bank notes.

I think this is great. Larry has a bank note reader, that on more than one occasion will regretfully inform him that it "cannot read" (imagine the downward inflection of disappointment in the reader's voice). He once got a rather surprising reading that a bill was a 50 - which he didn't know he had, to only find out it was a 5. I can just imagine the argument in the store over that one.

So here's something I found at the Bank of Canada's website re our newest bank notes. I quote the following from their site:

Several features in the Canadian Journey and Birds of Canada bank note series are designed to help blind and visually impaired Canadians recognize bank note denominations either by touch, by sight, or by electronic signal. These design elements are not security features and should not be used to authenticate bank notes.

The tactile feature is located in the upper right corner on the face of Canadian Journey series notes. It consists of a series of symbols formed by groupings of six raised dots separated by a smooth surface. Each symbol is composed of two columns of three raised dots. These dots are embossed and back-coated to enhance their durability. These symbols are not Braille: they are a system developed in consultation with blind and visually impaired Canadians after research indicated that not all potential users read Braille.

The number and position of these symbols vary according to the denomination. The $5 note has one symbol, the $10 note has two symbols separated by a smooth surface, the new $20 note has three symbols separated by two smooth surfaces, and the $50 note has four symbols separated by three smooth surfaces. Like the $10 note, the new $100 bank note has two symbols, but the smooth surface or space between them is wider.

Now if you know anything about Canada, one has to appreciate how difficult this country has made something that should be so simple. The absolute absurdity is that instead of some people having to learn new symbols - heaven forbid that those who can already read braille could just have one up on those who don't read it, and those people who don't would just have to learn it. But how hard could it be to learn a total of 5 symbols.

So what we have is an entire population of blind people trying to read money, but haven't a clue.

Larry's seen these bills, and in fact had no idea what until tonight what these dots represented... shouldn't someone have told him? Keep it a secret from the blind guy, and don't tell him what the secret code is?

Or how about this for a forward thinking idea... there are 5 different denominations - a $5 has 1 dot... a $10 has 2 dots... well you get my drift, all the way up to the $100 bill, which would have a grand total of 5 dots.

Amazing. Gotta love progress. Gotta love Canada.

Contributed by Jamie Naessens


  1. This deserves a comment, but I'm speechless (almost). You have said it all, and your system is intuitive - no learning involved. I wonder how many they actually consulted?

  2. If I were a betting person, I'd bet that they consulted not one blind person. Go Canada!