Cool Currency Apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired

One of the best aspects of tech is how it can be used to help people with challenges. Tech such as Immersion Reading on the Kindle and SAM VIBE Internet Radio have opened up new worlds for people with vision issues.

For people who are blind or visually impaired, counting money can be an immense challenge. Unlike many other countries, US currency is uniform in size. The $100 bill is the exact same size as the $1, making cash transactions extremely difficult for people who with vision issues. Even in other countries, identifying currency can present problems for people with visually impairments.

When I first started practicing law, I visited a courthouse in Tampa, Florida with a newsstand operated by a man who was blind. When I asked another lawyer how the man could work there without being swindled every day, the lawyer told me that the blind man said his daughter counted the money every night and that he usually came out ahead. Seeing that man working at the courthouse gave me faith in humanity.

But for those who don’t want to depend upon the kindness of strangers, tech can help. These apps help people identify money using smartphones, tablets and computers to announce the denominations of currency. These apps don’t need an Internet connection to work and they don’t identify counterfeit bills.

IDEAL Currency Identifier


IDEAL Currency Identifier is an Android app that scans US currency and then speaks the denomination of the bill. To use the app, place the bill on a flat surface under good light. Then open the app and hold the phone over the bill so that it appears in the frame. The app will then announce the denomination of the bill and whether it scanned the front or back of the bill.

Here is a video showing how it works:

The app works on US currency since 1993 and was developed in collaboration with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing: U.S. Department of the Treasury and National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research: U.S. Department of Education.

IDEAL Currency Identifier is available for Android devices running 4.0 and higher (Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean) and is free at Google Play.

LookTel Money Reader

LookTel Money Reader is an app that works on mobile Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch as well as Mac computers running OSX 10.6.6 or later. This app recognizes currency and speaks the denominations for:

  • US Dollar
  • Euro
  • British Pound
  • Canadian Dollar
  • Australian Dollar

The currency denomination can be spoken in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Korean, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese, Greek, Hungarian, and Mandarin.

Check out this demo video to see LookTel in action:

LookTel is available for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and  in the Mac App Store for Mac computers using OS X 10.6.6 or later.

Bottom Line

Tech can help people overcome challenges and make the world a more accessible place. People who are blind or visually impaired can become more independent by using these apps to identify currency.

Do you know anyone who might benefit from these apps? Have you seen how tech can help people overcome challenges? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!

* Image of currency by Images Money

Subscribe to The Wonder of Tech for Free!


  1. Sapna says

    HI Carolyn

    Great post!

    Tech people are really helping the people with the disabilities by developing such cool apps.

    Thanks for sharing these.


  2. Dadblunders says


    You and I are on the same page! The article I wrote last week for my blog, “Blogging Basics….Are Photos Important?” mentioned the importance of using ALT Tags on all of your photos.

    Many people don’t realize that having disability doesn’t necessarily limit you from using modern technology. If a blogger isn’t using ALT Tags on their photos they are missing out on the opportunity to be more SEO ready and they are not allowing “screen reading” technology to work to it full potential on their site (it allows the photos to be read to a person with a sight disability).

    The 21st century is truly a time for someone to become excited at all of the opportunities it allows “everyone” to have!!

    Aaron Brinker

    • says

      Hi Aaron, Wow, I didn’t know that was an advantage of adding Alt tags to images. I knew about SEO but it makes sense for screen reading technology as well.

      Tech has opened up new worlds with accessibility features, making life easier for many people.

      Thanks for sharing this information with us, Aaron!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Best Apps for Successful Students!My Profile

      • Dadblunders says


        Alt Tags that are rich in key words are great for SEO (as you are all aware) but it is the only way that current “screen reading” technology can read a photo to a person with disability. If a person leaves them blank they can’t be read at all to them. I believe, if a person wants their site to have the full potential it can have we should take the extra time to write out sentences (still rich in keywords) for all ALT Tags that allow the screen readers to do what they are intended for.

        Don’t feel bad about not knowing they were intended for that. When I began blogging I didn’t know it either (I am still working back through my older posts adding them to all of my pictures). There is a lot of debate on how much they actually help for SEO but no one disagrees they are used for screen reading technology.

        Aaron Brinker

    • says

      Hi Jason, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Yes, unfortunately not all people are as kind as the customers of the Tampa newsstand. These apps can make a big difference to people. As the price of tech inevitably drops, the availability of these apps might be within the reach of more people worldwide.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Jason!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Facebook – Your New Search Site? [Poll]My Profile

    • says

      Hi Carol, Yes, I never knew it either until I came across information about IDEAL Currency Identifier. I tested the app and it worked perfectly. Such a helpful innovation to help those with vision issues.

      Thanks for sharing this, Carol! I hope it helps someone be able to manage life better.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Which iPad Should You Get?My Profile

    • says

      Hi Carol, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m so glad that I have this blog to share this valuable information in the hope that it might help someone’s life become easier. Thanks so much for your good work and for spreading the word about this post, Carol.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Best Apps for Successful Students!My Profile

  3. Dave says

    Wow is this an amazing app or what! The growth in technology used in mobile phone applications is amazing. The amount of resources for business, travel, games and anything you can think of grows every day. It is going to interesting moving forward and seeing what else the world can come up with.

  4. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    It reminds me of bar code / QR reader apps :) The concept behind the apps are meant to be very helpful for ’em and I like how tech gonna help people with vision issues. They are taking the challenege :)

    Once I did try using a QR reader app closing my eyes just to see whether it’s easy for a blind person to use. I just did that. You know it does identify, but without the vision it’s much more than using the app. That was too hard. Before everything, the app needs to be activated (Can be done via voice commands), then need to locate where the objects are and have to place or point the app well. There it’s really hard without an assistance. At least for me ;) lol…

    Another thing that comes to my mind is that, as here it’s about money, the security need to be assured, right Carolyn? :) It counts dollars really well and I think there’s no problem with identification. But need to be careful where to use such apps, no? :) However these will replace the need of assistance of any other person to count money.

    I don’t know how much they makes sense, but if the usability can be improved, then they will be able to use ’em without much assistance, no? :) I hope they will come up with more usability improvements as they do more researches to minimize the assistance of others.

    Mayura recently published this awesome post..How to Schedule Your Posts in BloggerMy Profile

  5. Lancia says

    You are absolutely correct, the heights reached by technology is out of expectation. I admire the way you have written this post on cool currency apps for visually impaired people. LookTel Money Reader is definitely one of the best app I have seen so far since my mother uses it. It is best to organize bills before hitting the nightclub; the only drawback of this app is it doesn’t work well in low light that’s what my mother complains about.

  6. says

    Now you are just showing off Carolyn, but can it handle Danish Kroner (DKK)? ;-) Just kidding, it is some awesome apps for people having issues seeing. By the way do you know how awesome blind people are with a computer? I once installed Internet for a blind couple. They was both surfing online and sending e-mails. It was pretty impressive.
    Thomas recently published this awesome post..Interview with Carolyn Mohr from WonderOfTechMy Profile

  7. says

    I was on another post just today Carolyn where they were talking about adding the text to your images because when people stop by to read your post who are visibly impaired they may have some device that reads it for them. They would still like to imagine what your photo looks like so by not adding text it will just state that it’s an image.

    I can’t even imagine having this issue but that’s so cool that they have apps that can read money because this could be a major issue I think. Those are really cool and I watched how they worked.

    Carolyn to the rescue.

    Adrienne recently published this awesome post..Thankful Thursday – Facebook, Debt, Plagiarism & TechMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Adrienne, Yes, until Aaron mentioned that I had no idea that the image descriptions were read aloud by voice over software. I just had added descriptions to my images to have search engines have a better chance of finding my articles. But that’s very cool that descriptions can help in other ways too.

      I hope these apps help others function better in the world, Adrienne. Tech has made a big difference in many lives and can help make everyday challenges much easier to overcome.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Jemstep Portfolio Manager – Tech for Planning Your RetirementMy Profile

  8. says

    Fascinating. My first job was as a cashier at a local Kmart store, and once a sight-impaired customer came through my line: I was surprised to see that she was able to count out the correct number of bills because of the unique way she had each denomination folded. But back then, there’d have been no smartphone to help her figure out which bill was which before she left the house.

    It’s amazing what technology can do!
    Patrick recently published this awesome post..‘God’ Receipt Posting Gets Waitress FiredMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Patrick, What a wonderful story. That’s a brilliant way to keep track of money for the vision impaired. Much less expensive than getting a smartphone. I guess someone would have to know what the currency was in the first place to know how to fold the bills.

      You’re right, technology is amazing in so many respects.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Super Bowl Super Apps!My Profile

  9. Kent Morris says

    The growth in technology used in mobile phone applications is amazing. The amount of resources for business, travel, games and anything you can think of grows every day.
    Thank you