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2002-02-25 20:30:07
Touchy-feely Euros better for the blind

A Southport Euro-MP has hit back at eurosceptic claims that the euro would be much more difficult to use for blind and partially sighted people.
Chris Davies has described suggestions that blind people could be ripped off because the new notes are impossible to tell apart as "just another a desperate attempt to discredit the euro by playing on people's fears".
Mr Davies says that the new euro notes and coins have been specially designed to take into account concerns raised by the European Blind Union, which brings together national organisations such as the UK's Royal National Institute for the Blind.
As a result, the Liberal Democrat MEP claims that thousands of blind or partially sighted people in Southport will now find it much easier to travel within the eurozone, and says that they would also benefit if the euro was introduced here in the UK.
The EBU has been heavily involved in the development of the euro since 1993, and consulted hundreds of blind people from across the EU to find out what they wanted from the common currency. Many of their suggestions were then included in the design of the new notes and coins.
The notes, which come in seven different denominations, all carry 2cm high numerals designed to be perceptible to the touch. Each note is a different colour and length according to its value, and the most common notes also differ in height. Other features helping to distinguish between the notes include raised vertical or diagonal lines, and foil elements in different shapes and positions.
The eight different euro coins are also easy to tell apart. Each type of coin has its own unique size and weight, and the edges of the coins vary according to their value. The coins also display large numerals, are different colours and are made of different metals.

Commenting on the EBU's involvement in the euro's design, Stephen King of the RNIB said: "The result of this story is a currency system I believe will be the best in the world for everyday use by people, whether the light is bad, their sight is poor or they are blind. We are very pleased with the final outcome which will be a significant improvement for many millions of people in Europe."
Chris Davies said: "It is amazing how far some eurosceptics will go to try to discredit the common currency. Although no bank note could ever be perfect for blind people, a lot of time and effort has gone into making the euro as easy to use as possible.
"People in Southport with impaired vision will now find it much easier to travel in Europe. They will be able to use the same currency across twelve different countries, and they will also find the euro much easier to use than many of the old currencies - including the good old British pound!"

Article submitted by Andrew Cutting on behalf of Chris Davies Euro MP.
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