Free U.S. Currency Readers for Blind and Visually Impaired


Free currency readers are beginning to make their way to the blind and visually impaired thanks to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s U.S. Currency Reader Program.

iBill Talking Money Identifier
The U.S. Currency Reader Program by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will offer free currency readers to the blind and visually impaired. The reader, shown above, was developed by Orbit Research and is named the iBill Talking Money Identifier.

Introduced earlier this month at the 2014 convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida, the program plan is to freely distribute iBill Talking Money Identifiers to visually impaired individuals with meaningful access to U.S. currency.

The currency reader, developed by Orbit Research ( and now in its second generation, instantly and accurately identifies all U.S. bills in circulation to include denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Normally priced between $120 and $130, iBill Talking Money Identifiers will next get distributed at no cost to eligible attendees at the annual conventions of the:

  • American Council of the Blind (ACB), held July 11 to 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and
  • Blinded Veterans of America (BVA), held Aug. 18 to 21 in Sparks, Nevada.

Two-Phased Rollout: Pilot and National

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has announced a two-phased approach in broadening its U.S. Currency Reader Program. In phase 1, the BEP plans a four-month pilot program beginning on Sept. 2, 2014.

"The pilot program allows the government to test its ordering and distribution processes and gauge demand for currency readers," the BEP stated in a news release.

The test program partners the BEP and the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). NLS administers a free library program that circulates braille and audio materials to about 400,000 eligible borrowers.

"The fact that we already have a process in place to provide reading materials to individuals who are blind or visually impaired made our partnership with the BEP a natural fit," explained Isabella Marques de Castilla, NLS Deputy Director. "Our role in the U.S. Currency Reader Program will be to process orders and distribute currency reader devices to eligible individuals."

When phase 1 launches on Sept. 2, NLS patrons can receive a free currency reader by calling 1-888-NLS-READ.

Phase 2 starts on Jan. 2, 2015, when the BEP makes free currency readers available to the broader U.S. population with individuals able to submit applications to get them.

For more information about the U.S. Currency Reader Program, visit the website of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and

Here is a BEP informational video about the iBill Talking Money Identifier:

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