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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 51, December 17, 2006, Article 16

MORE ON MAKING U.S. PAPER CURRENCY MORE USABLE FOR THE BLIND

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article last Sunday,
December 10 about recent ruling to make U.S. paper money more
usable by the blind:

"... former government officials and vending merchants say redesigning
the 37 million currency bills printed each day would be an unduly
expensive effort. They argue that the change would force the redesign
of hundreds of everyday objects, such as ATMs, cash registers and
wallets.

"The ruling also is opposed by a larger blind advocacy group, the
National Federation of the Blind, which calls the American Council
of the Blind's effort "dangerously misguided" in suggesting that
blind people are incapable of identifying currency."

"A National Academy of Sciences study in 1995 found that of the 180
countries that issue paper currency, only the United States printed
all denominations of bills the same size. The study suggested the
Treasury Department could both prevent counterfeiting and assist
low-vision and blind Americans by enlarging fonts and varying the
bill sizes. Euros, for example, increase in length and height for
each value. When the U.S. bill underwent redesigns in 1996 and 2004,
numerals were enlarged so low-vision users could easily distinguish
the bills, Ferguson said. But the large numbers failed to assist
legally blind users..."

Ferguson said the bureau tested braille marks on bills, but
durability tests showed that they wore off quickly."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

On Tuesday the government filed an appeal of the judge's decision:
"Justice Department lawyers filed the appeal with the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson."

"Jeffrey Lovitky, an attorney for the council, said he planned to
petition the appeals court to reject the appeal until Robertson
makes a decision on what remedies the government should pursue. A
hearing to hear the government's recommendations is scheduled for
next month."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

National Public Radio did a piece on the story December 14th.  At
this web page you can find a link to a recording of the story, and
read a nice illustrated sidebar article about the features other
countries use on their banknotes to help the visually impaired.
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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