New $50 bill good news for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted


CNIB applauds the Bank of Canada on the accessibility features of its new $50 polymer bank note. The bill, released today, includes touch, sight and electronic signal features that will help individuals who are blind or partially sighted to better identify the bank note.

“Distinguishing one bill from another is something many people take for granted,” said CNIB President and CEO John Rafferty. “But for more than one million Canadians, identifying money can be challenging. The enhanced accessibility features of the new polymer bills can make the difference between paying for items with confidence and having to rely on a family member, cashier or fellow shopper to handle money.”

Accessibility features of the new $50 polymer bank note include:

  • Touch: tactile features (raised dots that identify a note’s value) will now last longer than previous bills, thanks to the durability of polymer.
  • Sight: larger, high contrast numbers feature a dark number with a pale background on the front, and a white number with a dark background on the back.
  • Electronic signal: electronic bank note readers, which identify bills through machine-readable codes, can read both short edges of the new polymer bill, not just the left edge as was the case with previous bank notes.

Rafferty commented: “CNIB is proud to have collaborated with the Bank of Canada and other accessibility advocates to ensure the new series of bank notes recognizes the specific needs of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted.”

The Bank of Canada’s first polymer bank note was the $100 bill, which was released in November 2011. A new $20 bill will begin circulating later in 2012, followed by $10 and $5 bills by the end of 2013.

Local CNIB centres across the country provide free bank note readers to Canadians who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted – courtesy of the Bank of Canada. Bank note readers talk and vibrate to help identify both polymer and paper bills. For more information about how to obtain a bank note reader from CNIB, visit

For more information, please contact:
Erika Bennett, Public Relations Specialist, CNIB 
(416) 486-2500 ext. 8355

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