Friday, January 2, 2009

Teaching Money Identification by Touch

It has been a few years since I have needed to teach money identification by touch to a student. This method of identifying bills and coins is usually taught to student who are blind or have low vision, but I have also successfully taught this method to learners with brain injury that affects visual and short term memory.

The method is like this:

Coins are identified by three characteristics:
  • Size. The dime is the smallest coin, and the half-dollar is the largest.

  • Edge. The penny and the nickel have a smooth edge. The dime, quarter, and half-dollar have a milled, ridged edge.

  • Thickness. The nickel is thicker than the other coins.
Bills are identified by how they are folded:
  • Leave $1 bills unfolded
  • Fold $5 bills lengthwise ("the long way")
  • Fold $10 bills by width ("the short way")
  • Fold $20 bills lengthwise and then by width ("total fold")


  1. Is it true that all the USA bills are the same size and substance? It seems like such an insane way of doing things!

    Our Australian bills are different lengths according to their denominations - smallest bill is the smallest length, and so on. So it's easy to identify them even if you only have one by measuring against known sizes which can be marked on the edge of one's wallet or a gazillion other methods. They're also all bright colours with the predominant colour being different for each bill, so even those with quite small amounts of vision can visually identify the purple one ($5), the blue one ($10), the red one ($20), the yellow one ($50), and the covetted green $100 bill.

  2. Blind activists won a case in the Supreme Court last year that our paper money violates equal access and the American with Disabilities Act. The Federal Mint has a few years to try to get it right. But in the meantime time we need to Braille or fold money. I hope we go with a system like yours.

  3. I hope you get something good - I can imagine that for the colour system there'd be a lot of cultural baggage with making the "greenback" not green unfortunately. That means even if you get different sizes or something it isn't trivial for low vision people. I hope they find a good solution!

  4. then lets throw another greenback on the barbee, mate


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