Court Says U.S. Currency Discriminates Against the Blind

from the NY Times:

** Court Says U.S. Currency Discriminates Against the Blind**

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish among the bills’ varying values, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The ruling upholds a decision by a lower court in 2006. It could force the Treasury Department to redesign its money. Suggested changes have ranged from making bills different sizes to printing them with raised markings.
The American Council for the Blind sued for such changes but the Treasury Department has been fighting the case for about six years.
’‘I don’t think we should have to rely on people to tell us what our money is,’’ said Mitch Pomerantz, the council’s president.
The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there’s no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

Courts can’t decide how to design the currency, since that’s up to the Treasury Department. But the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.

Why has the Treasury been fighting this?
Given all the screwing around they’ve been doing with the currency in recent years, I don’t see why it would be a burden to add bumps so blind folks can tell denominations apart.

I would suppose the resizing would be problems for cash registers. Bumps though might be doable more seamlessly, but they may also become worn down.

Not just cash registers, but laundra mats, vending machines and the like.

Just out of curosity though do you know how big of an issue is it? Is it possible to compensate using electronic means? I’ve seen atm’s, vending machines, phones, keyboards and all kinds of other stuff with brail on them.

When the bumps get worn, the gets the same treatment as any other worn-out note.
Seriously, the gov’t doesn’t hesitate to impose burdens on private businesses in the name of making life more handicap-accessible, sometimes to ridiculous lengths. I really can’t understand why they are fighting this. It’s bad PR and their legal costs would have paid for their feasibility studies.

Sorry, this sounds rediculious to me.

Next thing you know, all the cleaning products will have brail warnings on them so that blind people don’t accidently drink the bleach.

I’ll bet the majority of the blind people in this country would rather see this huge expense of money spent on research for the blind.

Actually if we start with the largest bill fitting a register drawer and going down from there I don’t see a problem. $100.00 and $50.00 bills tend to go under the drawer anyway so they could be bigger than the $1.00, $5.00, $10.00 and if they are still printing them the $2.00 bills I would have to talk to someone who is blind but couldn’t there be as little as a 1/4 inch or maybe even 1/8 inch that would be noticeable to the blind person who reads braille?

As for vending machines we may need to have them reconfigured or they can only take one size - used to be they only took coins but now they take and read the bills you insert so, if they can read the bills we insert what would it matter if the size was a bit different? Someone who knows how this works can give us a better idea how that would go.

I do agree though, why is it taking so long for our Government to fix this?

Brenda V.

Not all blind people agree that U.S. money should be changed. The National Federation of the Blind sided with the government and told the appeals court that no changes were needed.

Charlie Richardson, the legally blind manager of Charlie’s Express Stop inside the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., said he doesn’t oppose changing the money but disagrees with the ruling.
“To actually be discriminated against is to have something denied to you,” Richardson said. “We’re not denied the use of money.”

Sometimes things have unintended consequences. I’m reminded of a group I used to be associated with which lobbied for such things as sidewalks with curb-cuts or ramps so as to be accessible to wheelchairs. Of course, when this was done, those in wheelchairs could more easily navigate the sidewalks. But the blind were put in a more dangerous situation: their guide dogs were trained to stop at curbs. No curb, they would just keep leading the blind person out into the street.

Well, it is no big thing to redesign the currency so that it can be identified from the touch. However, I am not sure about the term - discriminate against the blind?? I mean, can Microsoft be sued since it discriminates against the blind in the design of computers and computer software?

Uh,… obviously blind people need to be “protected” from money, by having all of it taken away from them, and given to those who can spend it more “safely”.

All blind people should be allowed to get everything they want for free.

There’s a solution to this knotty problem!

(It’s might make for a run on scissors, with which to “RUN WITH”, but hey, everything has SOME unintended consequences, eh!?)

With automatic money-counting machines, I don’t think bumps on our currency would be practical. For one t hing, several $1 bills (for example) with bumps in the same places could stick together.

I’m not against the spirit of what they are trying to do, but I don’t know the most practical way to resolve it.

I suppose they might come out not so bad cost wise on the government’s side, but they don’t have to deal with a lot of the other ramifications. It seems a bit different from handicap accessible things, in that once the conversion happens everyone is affected. With the other things, such as building codes, you could allow some time to implement them. A very small business might not even have to do them, which might not be a bad thing, if the cost is going to drive them out of business.

Perhaps changing the tills might not be so bad for cash registers, especially if the resizing takes the spacing into account. If the width of the till has to be expanded that will cause lots of problems. It would still be a treat, while both sizes of the same bill is in circulation.

As far as bill acceptors, I would assume more or less the whole thing has to be replaced, if it was built before any changes are really considered. I’m sure most aren’t really built with any consideration of the width as a variable. I supposed it would also have to be made in a way that isn’t jam prone when smaller widths are inserted. Maybe now some are being manufactured to being able to recognize and accept bills as a variable that can be changed.

In the end the more you have to do, and the more variable you have to consider the more it will cost. That all isn’t so bad if it is just a few, but if it is all that gets to be a problem. I’m sure someone will say it’s not a zero sum game, but it still isn’t always smart money management to have to throw something out that still has a lot of working life and hasn’t fully depreciated for something brand new.

As far as bad PR, this is the government! This government has a near monoploy on useable cash. Besides I doubt that very many people really even have heard of the issue, and if they have they’ve just passed it off. Perhaps, I suppose, changing the bill sizes would be bad PR for a lot of people too. Namely, me for one and the rest of my overnight crew at work, we finally just got new vending machines that will take the new money. I’m guessing it’ll take seemingly forever to get vending machines that will take any new propsed bills.

In the end I guess if they want to take a long time to make the conversion that is not so bad, espcially if it allows businesses time to make a more seamless conversion.

Oh there you go making light of the blind, because they can’t see. :stuck_out_tongue:

First of all, it is rumored that the Treasury Department has already spent millions printing the new Amero dollar in Denver. Look it up on a search engine as I would rather not go into the “Amero” discussion here. I think the answer could be coins. Coins for the blind, available at any US Post Office. There could be coin denominations for $5,$10, $20, $50, $100. Those without vision could carry a coin purse. All change would be given in coins.
(Just an idea). Or, just print the paper money with Braille where the number is located.

Here is what Snopes has to say about the Amero rumor:

This sounds like a very sensible idea, but folks in the US have taken very poorly to $1 coins in the past. I wonder if the higher denominations could be kept in circulation, rather than simply dumped on banks which then didn’t pass them on to customers.

Canadian currency has bumps on it. Not actual braille dots for “20” or whatever, but another system that indicates the denomination. This is only fairly new bills and there’s a lot of old ones floating around still. But I think even though the bumps will smooth out a bit they will still be distinguishable. I think it’s a great idea. I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is wearing huge glasses and can’t tell the difference in bills, so he ends up with $100 worth of Chinese gum… :smiley:

So, nobody likes my “it’s all FREE!” for blind people idea!?

My step father is blind and usually has someone with him when he shops. However, there was a time he took a cab and instead of giving the cabby a $10 bill, he gave him a $100 bill. Of course the cabby didn’t correct his mistake. I believe that there are some who take advantage of the bling. Then again, there are some cabbies who do not even pick up the blind in downtown areas. But it is tue, if a non-honest person is on the recieving end of a blind person’s payment, the blind person could have a lot of money taken from them. Also this may become more of an issue with the rise of diabetes and heart disease (both can cause blindness), so this ruling may actually be good for correcting the problem before it becomes larger.

The one blind woman I know folds different bills into different shapes to help her, but she can’t make sure that cashiers/waiters/cab drivers/other vendors don’t take her money and give her incorrect change when she’s by herself. And they do!

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