WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Treasury discriminates against the blind by printing paper bills that are indistinguishable by size, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
The decision is a victory for the American Council of the Blind and other advocates for the blind, who argued that Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson Jr. denied them meaningful access to paper currency by failing to print various-sized bills.
Paulson acknowledged that the U.S. bill system requires visually impaired citizens to rely on the kindness of others, but claimed they could use ample “coping mechanisms,” such as expensive portable currency readers, to help them read the bills.
The federal appeals court said the coping mechanisms were not good enough, and held that the Treasury’s failure to respond to the needs of the blind violated the Rehabilitation Act.
“A large majority of other currency systems have accommodated the visually impaired,” Judge Rogers wrote, “and the Secretary does not explain why U.S. currency should be any different.”