Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Blind-Friendly Stamps

  [vote for,

If you're blind, stamps are a real problem. Often of a universal size despite denomination, they are enormously difficult to differentiate. To compound the issue, certain countries, such as the UK, constantly change the stamps in circulation, often having more than one stamp size for each stamp value.

If you are blind, how can you tell which stamp to stick?

I propose a taste or smell code. The flavour should be impregnated into the front and back surface. (UK stamps are self adhesive so no-one licks and therefore tastes the glue). On smelling the stamp or licking the surface, the flavour is released.

Fruity First Class
Sour Second Class

plus others for the individual price stamps. For the sight-impaired, this would make life much easier.

jonthegeologist, Mar 09 2004

Not really related, just amusing http://www.bemroseb....asp?ArticleID=1602
The stamps produced to commemorate England winning the Rugby World Cup are valued at 68p - a denomination used chiefly to send letters to Australia. [calum, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Swiss post office's Braille stamp http://www.blindenv...l/marke/marke-e.htm
The nation's first Braille stamp, issued in 2003. "Swiss Post was unlikely to issue more Braille stamps in the near future because of production difficulties." [kropotkin, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Royal Mail in Britain's design features http://www.sds-uk.o...s/pr-sds-stampbook/
Basic facilities to help the blind, partially sighted, and those with limited use of their hands. Includes larger type and notches to distinguish first and second class stamps. No scratch-and-sniff. [kropotkin, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

How Sratch and Sniff stickers work http://entertainmen...com/question274.htm
Micro-encapsulation is the key to this idea. [jonthegeologist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Australia: scratch-and-sniff stamp issued http://www.auspost....e=8&category_id=485
A rose, for Valentine's day 2006. Awwww, you shouldn't have. [jutta, Feb 03 2006]


       I think the smelly ones would be better. Otherwise you might lick a stamp and find out it's a 63p one when you were only after one for 31.5 p.
hazel, Mar 09 2004

       Scratch-n-sniff technology put to practical use.
half, Mar 09 2004

       Of course it would be easier and probably cheaper just to make braille stamps, but where's the fun in that?   

       You would have to provide sensory training for people - ie train the blind community in what you mean when you say "fruity" or "sour". Otherwise you could get all sort of mix ups with hilarious consequences.
hazel, Mar 09 2004

       I have long wondered why, after going to the trouble of making UK currency easy to use for the visually impaired, they couldn't be bothered to do the same for stamps. Why not make them different shapes. Square for 1st class, triangular for 2nd etc. The self-adhesive variety could come on sheets of a corresponding shape.   

       Plus for addressing an overlooked but everyday problem.
squeak, Mar 09 2004

       [krops] link shows a few interesting innovations which would go someway to help, but smell/taste technology would seem to help even more.
jonthegeologist, Mar 09 2004

theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       Yea but if you bought a book of stamps -- wouldn't your handbag/wallet stink of [something] for weeks, until you'd used them up?
britboy, Mar 10 2004

       [britboy] suspect not. The smells/flavours are only released when the surface of the stamp is scratched in some way. When the stamps are in a book, the stamps won't smell.   

       Also the smells released via the micro-encapsulation technologies have a very small range and can only be sensed when up close.
jonthegeologist, Mar 10 2004

       oops... [aguydude] I truely didn't mean to delete your point.   

       You were talking about blind people not having to pay for postage in some places and also suggesting that they could buy franking machines.   

       This is all true : but these machines are very expensive indeed, stamps are the best way .. this idea would make the cheap stamp accesible for all.
jonthegeologist, Apr 01 2004

       Bear in mind that "some places" means "some countries." I'm pretty sure that this includes mail from the US, UK, Canada, and Japan. What they count as acceptable may vary. As for franking machines being expensive, you're right. Since they such machines must to connect with the company providing the service, you have to pay a fee of like $20 or more per month. This is far too much to pay for a personal use device.   

       Anyhow, it's not a bad idea, it just doesn't seem that necessary. However, perhaps a blind person would find them more useful than I am expecting.   

       And by the way, an alternative solution would be to sell stamp dispensers of some sort with the braille on those devices. This would require less work to implement. Furthermore, companies could produce such devices. You can already buy rolls of stamps or whatever for use inside a stamp dispenser (http://shop.usps.com/cgi-bin/vsbv/postal_store_non_ssl/display_products/productDetail.jsp?OID=4047963). So, just make a few stamp dispensers and have braille on them indicating the value of the stamp. In fact, why even bother? Just make braille stickers and blind people can stick stickers on their stamp dispensers indicating the value of the stamps. Most mail that is sent needs a particular amount of postage so this solution isn't really that bad.
aguydude, Apr 02 2004

       Would love stamps that were both blind and friendly, like little sticky paper moles!
MikeOliver, Apr 02 2004

       [jtg] is this actually a problem at the moment, or just a perception of a problem ?
neilp, May 13 2004

       a problem. apparently.
jonthegeologist, May 14 2004


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