Andrew W. Pollock III and another reader forwarded this Associated Press story about this week's court ruling on the redesign of U.S. paper money to assist the blind. -Editor.Close your eyes, reach into your wallet and try to distinguish between a $1 bill and a $5 bill. Impossible? It's also discriminatory, a federal appeals court says.
Since all paper money feels pretty much the same, the government is denying blind people meaningful access to the currency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday. The decision could force the Treasury Department to make bills of different sizes or print them with raised markings or other distinguishing features.
The American Council of the Blind sued for such changes, but the government has been fighting the case for about six years.
Courts don't decide how to design currency. That's up to the Treasury Department, and the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.
That could still take years. But since blindness becomes more common with age, people in their 30s and 40s should know that, when they get older, "they will be able to identify their $1 bills from their fives, tens and twenties," said Pomerantz, of the Council of the Blind.
Redesigned bills could also mean more job opportunities, since employers often hesitate to hire blind workers for jobs handling money, said Charlson, of the Perkins School for the Blind.
The government could ask for a rehearing by the full appeals court or challenge the decision to the Supreme Court.
Treasury Department spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said the department was reviewing the opinion. She noted that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints the nation's currency, recently hired a contractor to consider ways to help the blind. The results will be available early next year, she said.
To read the complete article, see: Court: Paper money discriminates against the blind
The online publication The Spoof has already satirized the bill. -Editor.Henry Paulson, Jr., a practical joker, wants each bill to have a three-dimensional aspect related to the portrait, thus giving the blind person an immediate tactile answer to the bill he or she is holding.
For example, for the one-dollar bill, a silver dollar in President Washington's mouth for supposedly throwing one across the Potomac River. For President Lincoln, on the five-dollar bill, a projection of the mole on his face, for the ten-dollar bill, a bullet about to strike Alexander Hamilton in his duel with Aaron Burr, for the President Jackson twenty, a projecting hairdo, for the President U.S. Grant fifty-dollar bill, a cannon for this Civil War hero, and for the hundred, Benjamin Franklin with his kite.
To read the complete article, see: U.S. Treasury Must Redesign All Paper Currency for Equal Protection of the Blind
Wayne Homren, Editor
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