Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No More Currency Discrimination


In what is being called a major ruling for the blind community, a federal appeals court ruled that the uniform design of U.S. paper money discriminates against the blind, thus violating federal disability law. This decision as a result, necessitates major changes in paper money so that those who are blind can have an easier time at distinguishing between different dominations.

As the court correctly highlights:

"The current design of paper money springs from the world of the sighted...Upon casual inspection, anyone with good vision can readily discern the value of U.S. currency; yet even the most searching tactile examination will reveal no difference between a $100 bill and a $1 bill."

Its something that we have been used to everyday but never thing about. Something as simple as the bills we exchange on a regular basis or not as easy to use for the blind.

image  As a federal appeals court last year highlighted, more than 100 other countries vary the size of their bills and other include specific features to help the blind. Even the European Central Bank worked closely with the blind when designing the euro so that they contained easily recognizable features and were varied in size. I never noticed this but its nice to know Europe was ahead on this. Its odd and almost embarrassing to think that we are one of the few countries that is not ahead in designing currency that is easily accessible to the blind.

I wonder if this means having braille on our dollars now or certain parts like the one raised so you can feel what denomination is. Its nice to see this happen and I hope more of this occurs.

imageThe Alabama quarter actually has Helen Keller's name in Braille although I don't know if can be read from touching it.

ABC News

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