Accessible U.S. Currency
By Peter Korn on Nov 29, 2006
As a fairly frequent traveler, I've had the opportunity to use a lot of different currency. Much of this currency has been thoughtfully designed to be accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities - and most especially to people with visual disabilities. Not so American currency. In fact, a 1995 National Academy of Sciences report titled "Currency Features for Visually Impaired People" noted:
In contrast to the American situation, it should be noted that there are many things you can do to make currency accessible, and many currencies (like the Euro, the Yen, the Australian dollar) incorporate such features.
Yesterday U.S. District Judge James Robertson issues his ruling in American Council of the Blind v. Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury, holding that "the Treasury Department's failure to design and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired individuals violates §504 of the Rehabilitation Act." See the CNN Money article about this, as well as the ACB press release. The ruling is subject to appeal. But... perhaps with the next redesign of our currency, the U.S. will catch up with most of the rest of the world in currency accessibility.