The Treasury Department discriminates against millions of Americans who are blind or have poor vision by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish between denominations, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.
This is the kind of thing that most people don’t even think about. I certainly never did, until a couple months ago when I met - pay attention, here - my fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend’s high school friend and her husband, both of whom are blind. He is a lobbyist for a blindness special interest group (I can’t remember now if he’s with American Council for the Blind, who filed the case) and filled us in on this and other issues they’re working on.
A design change in our currency could mean big - and potentially expensive - changes. The most obvious example is the scanners in vending machines that need to recognize different bills, but any kind of electronic money counters may need to be updated. But I’m all for it. As Eric the lobbyist pointed out, there are different options: tactile differences or differently sized bills, for example. He’s not an expert on money, so he’s not trying to say he knows the best way to do it. The Treasury Department, on the other hand, is an expert on money, and it’s their responsibility to figure out a way to make cash accessible to everyone without having a huge impact.