New $50 Note Has Features To Help Vision-Impaired People

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New $50 Note Has Features To Help Vision-Impaired People AAP Photos

It's the nation's widest-circulated banknote but up until now some Australians have struggled to come to grips with the currency affectionately known as the 'pineapple'.

A new-look $50 note, boasting upgraded security and raised bumps to assist vision-impaired people, is due to hit the streets next week.

Melbourne man Chris Edwards got to handle the new currency on Monday and said it's going to make paying for family meals a lot easier.

The legally-blind man who gets around with help from guide dog Odie hailed the new tactile feature on the note as a "massive step forward".

Raised bumps are embossed on the top and bottom to help discern the note's value by touch.

"With the previous $5 and $10 tactile notes I could go to a cafe and feel confident to buy a cup of coffee and now I can have the same confidence paying for a meal with the family," Mr Edwards said.

The 50-year-old said the old system of comparing note lengths using a cardboard guide provided by the Reserve Bank, left a lot to be desired for blind and vision impaired people.

"If you were receiving a note you never had the full confidence you were getting the right note," Mr Edwards said.

But after years of campaigning and a successful petition launched by Sydney teenager Connor McLeod in 2015, the Reserve Bank agreed to make an upgrade.

"The beauty of it is it's very simple, you don't need to know braille to understand it," Mr Edwards said.

The new notes are an important move for the more than 300,000 blind and visually-impaired people in Australia, RBA spokesman Linsday Boulton said.

"It's probably the most significant feature we have on our banknotes."

The note's added security features include a top-to-bottom window, three images along the window and a motif which changes colour with movement.

Australia's first tactile note was the $5 bill, in 2016, followed by the$10 bill last year.

A revamped $20 bill is expected to be released in 2019 and a $100 note will follow in 2020.

The new $50 note will enter circulation on October 18.

Portraits on the note remain the same, featuring Australia's first published Aboriginal author and inventor David Unaipon and the first female member of an Australian parliament, Edith Cowan.

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