The U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that paper money is inaccessible to the visually impaired. Giving these people the opportunity to distinguish bills by size appears to be a positive, but it is important to consider both sides of the situation.
The court will rule in favor of an appeal as long as it is found to be unconstitutional. Since visually impaired people cannot differentiate between monetary denominations by touch, the court’s ruling shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Although this ruling comes with good intent, it should not be viewed as a top priority yet.
Two prominent agencies – the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind – are not even in agreement regarding this ruling. The NFB has denounced the court ruling, stating that there are more critical issues facing visually impaired people, while the ACB is in support of it.
If the NFB and ACB cannot come to a consensus on this ruling, it is not an issue fundamental to the way of life for the blind, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury should not be asked to take immediate action. The process will come at a large cost, and it is important to make sure that all issues can be addressed at once in order to make these changes correctly.
The Department of the Treasury’s claim that it cannot afford to make such a drastic change to our currency is invalid. Since the U.S. Mint can afford to redesign templates for the 50 State Quarters Program, it appears that spending its money to benefit disabled members of society should be within its means.
The visually impaired have been finding ways to deal with this issue, such as dog-earing paper bills differently based on their denominations. But these solutions are not 100 percent reliable, and the situation should be addressed.
The cost of redesigning machinery and templates to print new currency will be an expensive one. Alternative ways of modifying the system, such as introducing different borders, holes or various other forms of braille on the bills, should be explored first.XXX