Project: "U.S. Banknote Universal Design"
Company:Savannah College of Art & Design
Designer(s): Chris Rogers, United States
Category: Print, Student
User's Profile : -

Entry Description: Students were assigned to create a project that changes lives. I selected the area of inclusive design to investigate. During research, US currency (specifically bank notes) were identified as a culturally significant object and system that lacked universal access. Current US banknotes offer little accommodation for those without sight or severe visual impairment. This new design for the currency seeks to address this problem. It targets all users, US and international, sighted or not. Extensive research was conducted to see how (and if) other nations addressed the same problem and their methods for doing so. A variety of options presented themselves as well as the variables that need to be considered when designing bank notes. US currency design is typically devoted to outmaneuvering fraud and counterfeiting. And public sentiment is conservative with regard towards coloration, which is one of the first methods of note differentiation for low-sight. The bank notes were designed to combine, color change, high-contrast numerals, size variation and tactile elements to differentiate denomination. First, the colors are informed by current US design that features "color shifting" inks. The colors shift in printing to increase difficulty for fraud. The colors selected correspond to precious metals. Copper, Silver, Gold, Platinum and the traditional Green are used. Current portraits remain in addition to engraving patterns. The size variations begin with the one dollar bill. It remains the size it is now. All other sizes refer to one of it's dimensions. Ones, Fives and Tens complete a set that keeps the same width, but becomes progressively smaller in length. They can be told apart quickly and a person with low vision or that is blind can ask for this set during transactions. They can still be used in existing ATM and vending with less retooling of the mechanical processes and they are the primary bills currently used in these machines today. The Twenties, Fifties and Hundreds complete the second set that are begin with the One's length (the Twenty) but are wider and gradually become smaller in length. The Hundred and Ten are the same length (but the Hundred is wider) and the same for the Fifty and Ten respectively. The Twenty is the same length as the One for continuity. Ones and Twenties are the two most common bills in circulation. High-contrast numerals are placed on the front and back of the notes. They are devoid of decoration and comprise simplified forms. On the back of the note, the numerals appear in bright purple (a recent change incorporated into the latest printing of the US Fives) which stand out from the green on the back. Tactile epoxy-bumps are incorporated into the design. Of the many tactile devices under development, research has shown that high-durability epoxy elements can withstand the printing and circulation. They are placed into patterns that differ between notes. The top, right bump on each note has an infrared scan-pattern commonly used by advertisers in Asia. More cellphones are being produced that can read the pattern, taking the user to a website on the phone. These are designed to help identify and could be used with readers (that the blind or vision-impaired sometimes carry) or with cellphones that can be programmed to speak the name of the bill. The pattern is also deters fraud. The bank notes are designed with other considerations for counterfeiting already in place by the Federal Reserve. The traditional engraved lettering remains (shown here as the typeface, Federal by URW), watermarks, serial numbers, seals and signatures are replicated as well. The production of the notes would be by the Federal Reserve, using their state-of-the-art engraving, special fibers and micro-printing.

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