Accuracy of Braille in banknotes questioned

File photo shows a man examining the Braille character in a new Brunei dollar note. Picture: BT

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

VISUALLY-impaired and blind individuals in Brunei expressed concern over the accuracy of Braille characters in the new banknotes issued last July.

They are grateful for the monetary authority's show of concern for the blind and visually-impaired but said they would appreciate it if they could help rectify what they called mistakes in the use of the Braille system.

Noralizulrainee Ali Yussop who recently completed his postgraduate studies in Special Education at the University of Exeter said that he was quite enthusiastic about the new notes, until he examined the notes himself.

"I was disappointed to learn that when the notes came out the Braille characters were not tactile and the dots were not raised, so I wasn't able to read which note I had in my hand," he said.

The new notes in $1, $5 and $10 denominations were printed in conjunction with the 65th birthday of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and issued by the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD).

The Brunei Times contacted AMBD Managing Director Hj Mohd Rosli Hj Sabtu yesterday to enquire on this issue. He said the paper should contact the person in charge of the matter today.

Another issue Noralizulrainee raised was that when he and his friends,who were also well-versed in Braille, checked the new $10 note, the printed characters turned out wrong.

"We checked out the dots and it did not spell out 10. It was all wrong and where the dots are placed is very sensitive. The spacing in between the dots needs to be accurate," he said.

"From the arrangement, however, you could tell that the dots meant to write 10, but they (in fact) mean something else."

He said that the relevant authorities should have consulted the association of the blind before the currency got printed.

"I don't think they did, because if they did, it wouldn't have been printed wrongly," he said.

Mohd Jamary Danggat, president of the Brunei Darussalam National Association of the Blind (BDNAB), said some officers from the Ministry of Finance came to Pusat Bahagia to look for Braille notes, so it was given to them.

Asked what went wrong, he said that it should have been checked before minting.

Noralizulrainee said: "What's the use of printed Braille if we aren't able to read it?"

Nevertheless, he added: "I still think it's a great initiative, but I also think there's room for improvement ... it was a step towards an inclusive society".

It's too late to take the new notes back as they are already in circulation, Mohd Jamary said, adding that he would ask agencies concerned what initiatives they were going to take to rectify the situation.

"I am glad that the authorities care for the blind, so I don't really think it's their fault," he said.

However, to avoid future mistakes, he said that if new notes were going to be printed, the association of the blind was here to support the government in testing out the Braille characters.

Even with fingers that are sensitive to touch would not be able to detect the Braille characters on the new notes, said Universiti of Brunei Darussalam Academy of Brunei Studies graduate Dk Soffiezah Pg Hj Abu Bakar. However, he said: "I am not disappointed because I feel that this is still a trial."

"Maybe when they decide to do 50 or 100 dollar notes, they can ensure that the Braille characters come out and not make the same mistake."

Faridah Hj Mahmud who has been blind since birth, stressed that the arrangements of the dots were "all wrong" and urged authorities to make a correction.

"Maybe they didn't get it right the first time around, but (I) hope they can do it right the second time," she said. The Brunei Times