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Posted on Thursday 30 November 2006 at 9:42 am

Money for the Blind

I'm all kinds of excited. I've been saying for years that the US government needs to rethink the paper currency it issues. When the government started redesigning the bills to be harder to counterfeit, I had hopes, but they still didn't do what I wanted. My major complaint has always been that our bills are impossible to distinguish from each other if you are blind. Other countries have different sizes for the different denominations, and I've wanted the US to go to that type of system. A few weeks back, I hung out with some chaps from Canada and when we started discussing currencies, I immediately asked if they had different sizes since this is a matter that really concerns me. Canadians don't have different sizes, but they do have raised braille dots in the corner that would allow a blind person to know the denomination. That is also an acceptable solution for the US as far as I'm concerned. All that really matters is that something needs to be done.

A federal judge apparently agrees with me. Finally. A ruling was handed down on Tuesday that the Treasury Department has to change the bills to make it possible for the blind to distinguish between the various denominations. The US Treasury is arguing that it won't work and will cost too much money, to which the judge replied that of the over 180 countries with paper currency, the US is the only one that doesn't do something that could be considered blind-friendly so he doesn't buy the argument that it isn't doable.

This obviously isn't a change that is going to happen overnight, but at least it is finally going to happen. Assuming the ruling isn't appealed and overturned.
Feeling: excited
Listening: Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie & Bing Crosby


lady_bracknell at 3:08 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I find it hard enough to tell your notes apart, and I can see. I'm really pleased they're doing something about it. I buy a lot of my beauty products from a company that imprints its labels with Braille because it's an issue I feel quite strongly about - it's not a lot of hassle for major companies (let alone government reserves) to make the change, yet so few do.
bratty_jedi at 3:32 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I find it hard enough to tell your notes apart, and I can see.
That is what prompted the currency discussion with the Canadian chaps at the bar. Someone was pulling a bill out of a wallet and one of them was saying they couldn't understand how we Americans could tell our bills apart so quickly and easily since they all look the same. I said it must just be familiarity and knowing exactly where to glance for the little number and then started on my blind-friendly money tirade.

I really don't buy the argument that it will take too much time, effort, and money to change the US currency. Yes, it will take time and money but it isn't that difficult and it is well worth that bit of required effort.
lady_bracknell at 4:45 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
It's my understanding that notes don't actually stay in ciculation for that long - I seem to remember that the average life-span of a note over here is around 2 years (although yours could be sturdier, lol) - and since they're constantly producing new ones, they could just mix them in with the old ones until eventually all the old ones got destroyed in the normal process. And if a cosmetics company (it's not even a major brand - it's a pretty tiny French company) can afford to do it, surely a government can?
bratty_jedi at 5:31 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I think our twenties make it about 2 years and ones, fives, and tens a little bit less. But I could be wrong. No matter, they aren't in circulation for all that long.

In all fairness, moving to different sized bills would require major changes in the total US infrastructure. Just the cost of changing every soda and candy machine to accept the new bills and making ATMs able to distribute the new currency (possibly while still accepting the old bills during the transition period) would be astronomical. I don't think adding braille to the bills would require as much retooling. It might still be a bit costly, but not prohibitively and it is totally worth it.
kileaiya at 6:26 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I think that's excellent. I've always thought our currency needed to be more convenient for the blind.
bratty_jedi at 7:10 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
I just don't understand why it took this long for someone in government to step up and say this has to happen. I would think some of the disabilities lgislation should have forced the judiciary to this type of decision years ago. Perhaps no one sued until now? Even without a lawsuit, the legislature or the executive either one could have ordered this.
kileaiya at 8:14 pm on 30 November 2006 (UTC) (Link)
It’s an issue that should have been addressed far sooner. It was probably the government trying to save any cash they could by not doing it, which was awful.

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