Court says money discriminates against blind people

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MacNut, May 20, 2008.

  1. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that makes it impossible for them to distinguish among the bills' varying values, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

    The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholds a decision by a lower court in 2006. It could force the Treasury Department to redesign its money. Suggested changes have ranged from making bills different sizes to printing them with raised markings.

    The American Council for the Blind sued for such changes but the Treasury Department has been fighting the case for about six years.

    "I don't think we should have to rely on people to tell us what our money is," said Mitch Pomerantz, the council's president.

    The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

    The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

    "Even the most searching tactile examination will reveal no difference between a $100 bill and a $1 bill. The Secretary has identified no reason that requires paper currency to be uniform to the touch," Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote for the majority.

    Courts can't decide how to design the currency, since that's up to the Treasury Department. But the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.
  2. neoserver macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2003
    In Canada, our bills have the value in Braille on them... Why wasn't this looked at when the new US bills were made? It can't be that hard to incorporate a way to help the blind! I can't figure out why the US would resist such a change...
  3. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Unfortunately, due to the thin texture of Canadian paper money, the raised markings do not last very long in a bill's circulation life.

    The Blind still have to take the word of a trusted shop-keeper at times, then fold the bills proffered into a shape they can recognise. Thirds, half length wise, half width wise, etc.
  4. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    One nice thing in Japan, is how the money is blind person friendly, both paper and coin.

    Not sure why the US is resisting this change.
  5. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Probably can't stop the presses long enough to make the change. :rolleyes:
  6. JoshLV macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    Las Vegas
    LMAO this is ridiculous. What's next, music discriminates against the deaf? :rolleyes:
  7. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    This really has been an issue for a long time.

    While American coins can be distinguished by their size, ridges, and weight, a dollar bill is impossible to recognize without one's sight.

    I think a solution can be found rather easily. The US already invests considerable sums to make physical currency more difficult to counterfeit by having the Presidents' (and Hamilton and Franklin's too) collars raised. Why not implement a similar method to have each corner of the dollar bill have the value be "feelable."

    Other ideas that come to mind include giving each bill a different upper-left hand corner shape (although torn bills would be vulnerable to misidentification).

    Braille isn't a bad idea at all either. As long as the bumps are imprinted onto something strong (say plastic) and placed underneath the layers of cotton, they should be able to withstand the normal life of most bills (with the exclusion of the $1-that sucker doesn't get much life at all).

    Either way, there are plenty of good ideas to go around. It's sad that it took a court ruling, in the year 2008, to get the Bureau to start thinking about this.
  8. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Living in America in 2008 without music is painful. Living in America in 2008 without money is impossible.

    It would seem that some of the proposed changes, such as differently sized bills, would even have benefits that extend outside the blind community. It will probably be an expensive change to implement, but I think it's worth it.
  9. Thanatoast macrumors 65816


    Dec 3, 2002
    Finally, an excuse to ditch the dollar bill!

    And maybe while they're at it they can make US money not ugly anymore. The old designs from the 30's were great, but the new half classical/half Monopoly money designs suck ass.

    The only thing keeping us from ditching the terrible looking money is fear of change.
  10. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    'Tis indeed a pity I won't be around to see if you develop cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration.

    Here have a chocolate, [​IMG], it might sweeten your disposition.
  11. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    Personal, I would have moved to Credit Cards a while ago if I was blind.

    But I see the logic behind this....Euro is different sizes for different values(if I recall)....can't see why we don't do that.
  12. latergator116 macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2003
    Providence, RI
    What a horrible analogy. Think before you post.
  13. MacNut thread starter macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    And how would you pay the bills afterwards.
  14. Counterfit macrumors G3


    Aug 20, 2003
    sitting on your shoulder
    Well, I would think a blind person would be able to tell the rough edge of a torn note from the clean edge of one made in that shape.
  15. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    They probably could in most cases, but that still doesn't tell them the value of a torn note.
  16. Beric macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2008
    Bay Area
    The U.S. needs to dispense with paper entirely and use metal as money. It lasts longer and is, therefore, more cost-effective.

    We can't eliminate the dollar bill and use a dollar coin because "it's America". Never mind the estimated $300 million a year that would be saved by dumping the dollar bill.

    Our U.S. Treasurer has made so many mistakes it's unbelievable. Whoever he/she is should be fired for someone more competent.
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    And streets. And sidewalks. And a lot of things.

    The US is just idiotic sometimes, and their judging by this quote....
    and people who don't think, like....
    ....that's not about to change.

    Many parts of the world have done that already. It's not just in Europe. They do it in so many countries.
  18. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

    Dec 9, 2004
    You've already been thoroughly abused because of this ;), but just to make it really clear to you: music is primarily oriented toward people who can hear. Money is for everybody. Get it?

  19. oblomow macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2005
    Blind people should be able to use money without the need of help from someone. The money in the NL before the euro was blind-friendly and fortunately it stayed that way with the introduction of the euro.
    quoting wikipedia:

    Special features for people with impaired sight

    The design of euro banknotes include several characteristics suggested in co-operation with organisations representing blind people. These characteristics aid both people who are visually impaired (people who can see the banknotes, but cannot necessarily read the printing on them) and those who are entirely blind.
    Euro banknotes increase in size with increasing denominations, which helps both the visually impaired and the blind. The predominant colouring of the notes alternates between “warm” and “cool” hues in adjacent denominations (see the chart above), making it still harder to confuse two similar denominations for those who can see the colour. The printing of the denominations is intaglio printing, which allows the ink to be felt by sensitive fingers, allowing some people to distinguish the printed denominations by touch alone. Lower denominations (5, 10, 20) have smooth bands along one side of the note containing holograms; higher denominations have smooth, square patches with holograms. Finally, the €200 and €500 notes have distinctive tactile patterns along the edges of the notes: the €200 note has vertical lines running from the bottom centre to the right-hand corner, and the €500 note has diagonal lines running down the right-hand edge.
    It can be useful to fold a note between two fingers and then use the fingers as a length gauge to distinguish one note from another.
    Although there have been other currencies pre-dating the euro that were specifically designed in similar ways (different sizes, colours, and ridges) to aid the visually impaired, the introduction of the euro constitutes the first time that authorities have consulted associations representing the blind before, rather than after, the release of the currency.
  20. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Obviously isn't enough for the US banknotes ... personally seen and felt a pattern difference on the old notes since there was a spot different in most notes. But the newer notes aren't something I've keyed in on yet.

    Don't know if a slightly more raised braille pattern in a corner of the note would help.

    Likely any change would be implemented over a decade so change won't be slow.

    That and instead of keying in on paper money, a lot of the electronic machines are still dumb and easier points of fraud against the blind.
  21. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Um, do you guys actually pay your bills with cash? I think it has been about 10 years since I last paid a bill with cash. And I have never received my salary in cash (or cheques) either. It's all electronic.
  22. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    We're beginning to lose sight of the reasonable in "reasonable accommodation."
  23. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Well, it would not hurt, and that's the point.

    Unfortunately, quite a few people are Blind because of Diabetes, which affects the tips of their fingers for feel.
  24. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Our notes increase by 7mm per denomination. They are brightly coloured too.

    Always wondered why the US money was allowed to continue in it's current form for so long.
  25. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    It's totally reasonable that if we have a society that requires the use of paper money, that an aging and increasingly visually impaired population would need to find a way to make paper money work. Credit cards are great but some places won't accept them below certain minimums, or maybe you just want to get a soda from the vending machine...

    This isn't a particularly crazy suggestion. What I was amused by was that in the decision one of the judges pointed out that telling blind people to rely on strangers being honest is like telling someone in a wheelchair they don't need a ramp, they need someone who will be nice enough to drag them up the stairs.

    The issue of what is easy to discern visually is going to become a lot bigger as the population ages. Baby boomers are going to need bigger price tags in stores for starters. And I read a great book about merchandising once (Paco Underhill, Why we buy) that discusses how as we age we can't discern certain colors, like yellow. So yellow may be paired with bold lettering, or drop off as a merchandising color, as the boomers age and can't tell yellow/gold writing on a price tag or package.

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