The trouble blind people have with £1 coins
A new 12-sided British pound coin is to replace the round one after 30 years. With very different edges to other coins, it'll make it easier to identify if you're blind, writes Ouch's Damon Rose.
I must be one of the most trusting souls in the UK. When I buy a pint, a packet of mints or anything really, I am often to be seen holding up a note and asking the seller: "Is this a fiver or a tenner?" Being blind it's hard to distinguish which note is which.
They're a little different in size but if you really want to know what paper money you're holding, blind people will either use a keyring note measuring gauge or a little electronic device that vibrates once if it's a £5, twice if it's a £10, three times if it's £20 and so on. Phone apps also exist. But it's a faff.
Coins are much easier to distinguish by touch because, unlike notes, they don't bend or get soggy with age. Fifty pence pieces are a particularly feelable delight, closely followed by 20 pence pieces which can feel a bit like the other round coins in your pocket because you always find yourself sorting money at speed at point of purchase.
Presently, the big, chunky £2 pound coins are the most distinguishable. The milling on the edge of a £1 coin for some reason can get rubbed away so you have to bear this in mind. I've found myself trying to buy a coffee with a couple of two pence pieces and being told quizzically: "The coffee is two pounds, not 4p," by a barista who thought I was trying to con him.
But a unique, hefty 12-sided coin is an accessibility masterstroke - it won't be mistaken for either a 50 or 20 pence piece. The Royal Mint consults with interested parties such as Age Concern and the RNIB when designing new currency.
I'm hoping the new plastic notes, due out in 2016, are either robust enough to judge without a gauge or will have Braille. Current notes aren't suitable as the dots get squashed.