George Bush Don’t Like…

…blind people. From the AP:

The Bush administration on Tuesday asked an appeals court to overturn a ruling that could require a redesign of the nation’s currency to help the blind.

The appeal seeks to overturn a ruling last month by U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who ordered Treasury to come up with ways for the blind to recognize the different denominations of paper currency.

On the other hand, maybe the National Federation of the Blind don’t like blind people so much either:

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind persons, today announced its full support of the decision of the United States Department of the Treasury to appeal a court order mandating a redesign of U.S. paper money. The Federation plans to support the Treasury in the appeal process.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The ruling of Judge James Robertson saying that U.S. currency discriminates against the blind was dangerous and wrong. The blind are not barred from using U.S. paper money because of the way it is designed. This ruling misinterpreted the meaning of discrimination. It also implied that the blind are not capable of looking out for our own best interests and that the whole world must be modified for our protection. If it is allowed to stand unchallenged, this ruling will do real harm to the blind by making our goal of full and equal participation in society virtually impossible to achieve.”

Um…I hate to come off as insensitive to Dr. Maurer’s concerns, but couldn’t that same argument be used against things like putting braille labels on elevator buttons? I mean, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) requires braille on drive-thru ATM machines, so how could making money denominations identifiable to blind folks be insulting or harmful?

I can understand the Government’s concerns with keeping bills the same size–there is a huge infrastructure for automatically reading U.S. currency—that infrastructure might not easily be converted to work on bills with dimensional heterogeneity.

An alternative solution might be to develop technology that exploits one of four other senses that are available to people who are blind. Scratch and sniff bills might be one option, but I was thinking the government could develop a small cell-phone sized scanner that quickly identifies bills aurally or tactilely (or both). It might be less expensive for the Government to offer such devices for free to visually impaired people, rather than modifying the currency in some major way.

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6 Responses to “George Bush Don’t Like…”

  1. Joanie Says:

    Interesting. I’ve never thought about this. I wonder how often blind people are cheated? I think it is worth looking at.

  2. P38 Says:

    Canada has same sized bills in different colours…

  3. aep Says:

    Why not do like every other country and… MAKE THE BILLS DIFFERENT SIZES? That’s how the blind do it in other countries…

  4. palamedes Says:

    I was told once a long time ago by a blind man who ran a news kiosk that there’s a difference in the feel of the edges of certain bills. It’s been a while since I heard this – any validity to it?

  5. Fremont Says:

    Blind people can manage bills by folding them in specific ways…this still requires original identification of denomination by a sighted person or machine. There are scanners that speak the denomination, but they are large and subject to proper insertion. Cell phone sized scanners would be fab, Darryl.

  6. Joanie Says:

    Oh, dear, my scanner needs to be charged. Oh dear, forgot my scanner today. Oh dear, lost my scanner.

    I think we should make it easy for blind people to tell bills apart.

    BTW, what does a scanner do? Does it beep in different pitches for different bills?

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