Quite a few readers are interested in this model. Find more pictures of her here.

CNN Money – November 28 2006, via the always interesting Overlawyered.com:

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Treasury Department is violating the law by failing to design and issue currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired people.

Judge James Robertson, in a ruling on a suit by the American Council of the Blind, ordered the Treasury to devise a method to tell bills apart.

The judge wrote that the current configuration of paper money violates the Rehabilitation Act’s guarantee of “meaningful access.”

“It can no longer be successfully argued that a blind person has ‘meaningful access’ to currency if she cannot accurately identify paper money without assistance,” Robertson wrote in his ruling.

American Council for the Blind v. Sec’y of the Treasury, United States District Court of Columbia (2006):

Unable to identify the value of paper money without help from others, blind and low vision individuals are always at risk of being cheated. The frequency of such acts against blind and low vision individuals is impossible to measure, because victims may not know that they have been deceived unless someone tells them. Ms. Brunson, Dr. Stephens, and Mr. Sheehan could recall only a few instances when they learned that they had been defrauded.2 It is reasonable to assume, however, that deliberate fraud or accidental shortchanging may go unnoticed for some time, and that some instances may never be noticed.

For example, Ms. Brunson recalled one occasion in which a store clerk informed her she was being given a $20 bill. She later learned, when attempting to make another purchase, that this bill was actually worth only $5.

  1. jbellies says:

    They need to redesign the money *anyway* to make it less easy to forge, so this is just helping them along. They *do* need help.

    In some countries, the UK for example, notes of different denominations are different sizes. I’m not sure if that is the most “user friendly” method for a blind person, but it should work in a pinch. OTOH, Braille might be going too far. I’d think that holograms or roughened or smoothed areas should work.

  2. Venom Monger says:

    Odd that this would become an issue at a time when cash is becoming less and less relevant. (Although I hope it never goes away.) What about laws making credit card, debit, atm machines, etc accessible to the blind? Wouldn’t those be even MORE necessary? Sheesh. I mean, you could take a blind person’s credit card and ring up any amount you wanted. I’ve never seen a credit card machine that uses spoken prompts or that provides a braille reciept.

    Maybe it would make more sense to just make everybody else wear blindfolds all the time, just to even up the field.

  3. SN says:

    #2 “What about laws making credit card, debit, atm machines, etc accessible to the blind?”

    I guess you haven’t noticed, but credit/debit cards have raised numbers and letters to be felt by the blind and all ATMs I’ve seen have braille or other options for the blind. Haven’t you heard the joking observation? Why do drive up ATMs have the option to use braille?!

    I have to agree with your other point, though. It seems pointless that this is an issue now that cash is about to become obsolete.

  4. Vinny says:

    If they are concerned with their money, I would be more than willing to hold it for them until it all gets worked out.

    Seriously, the fact that we NEED to worry about this tells me that either a) it’s time for everyone to be using and accepting plastic, or b) the world has gone to hell in a hand basket. Cheating the blind is only just above cheating the mentally retarded. How far down on the evolutionary scale do you have to be to not know that this is sending you to hell, wrecking your karma, or even guaranteeing that some disgruntled husband of a blind woman will come in and kick your a**?

  5. Named says:

    Braille on a bill and different sizes for different denominations would solve the problem. And it wouldn’t cost the taxpayers too much. The Fed just redesigned the bills anyway. They should have considered it. No need to rush to paperless society. Farmers markets need cash to survive and not pay a 3% surcharge.

  6. SN says:

    #5 “Farmers markets need cash to survive and not pay a 3% surcharge.”

    I’d guess that the large corporations that run our country, e.g., Walmart, would love to see farmers’ markets run out of business.

  7. The other Tom says:

    I think you forgot about being strangled by His Noodly Appendages.

    I first saw the title and said to myself, “what a load of crap, get over it”. But as I read the story, i genuinely began to feel sorry for this group of people at a tangible disadvantage. Our society is so focused on visuals for everything, I would find it near impossible to function if I had to put my self in the blinds’ shoes for a week. I agree with #1, they are redesigning the money anyway, why not help out the blind while they’re at it?

    I certainly hope that cash is never obsolete. Esp. not with the government we have.

  8. The other Tom says:

    And could you have found a better picture?!
    I mean wow! I think I might like it too much.

  9. SN says:

    #8 “I mean wow! I think I might like it too much.”

    No problem, I’m here to serve. 😉

  10. Named says:


    What? What’s wrong with cash? Honestly, are you purposely putting up a strawman argument because your so against money the blind can use? Not all blind have credit cards, and some maybe so thin on resources that they prefer to pay for something with cash. A farmer’s market is an example of an improptu marketplace where goods are exchanged with the simplest of infrastructures. I can think of many more, but since I use farmer’s markets weekly, it stood out as a valid, legitimate sample. Walmart… Did I say anything about corporations? No, I stated that different sized denominations and braille would be easily implemented and affect the sighted minimally.

  11. Named says:


    OK, I just read your comment again, and now I don’t know what your point is. From your previous post you seem to be for a cashless society, and yet you make a statement about mega-corps after my farmers market example. Don’t take offense to my 10, cause I think I got a little confused…

  12. Named says:

    And someone please, PLEASE fix the Kinda-Captcha! I can handle typing in the four codes, but TAKE ME BACK TO THE THREAD!!

  13. Uncle Dave says:

    #12: We don’t write the code that runs the site. We are at the mercy of the author.

  14. Named says:


    Well throw the guy a twonie and tell him to fix it!

  15. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    It would be nice if he put the cursor in the box, too.

  16. SN says:

    #s 10 and 11:

    I’m in favor of cash. My comment about Walmart was merely pragmatic. You raised a valid basis as to why cash is important. I merely pointed (or attempted to point out) that the powers to be in our country would not care about protecting farmers or cash. When they decide that they can make more money without cash, cash will be gone.

  17. Named says:


    Understood. Cash is King!

  18. lou says:

    It’s not a cash vs. government thing. The only reason why cash is accepted and used is because we have a government that is trusted. And we have to pay for this government somehow, sometimes by salestax.

  19. Steve S says:

    Damn Canadians! Always trying to be nice to people. I don’t trust people that are nice.


  20. Charles Ellis says:

    Comment #2, while being incorrect about ATM and credit machines not having braille, makes a good point that those same machines don’t provide any accessible way for blind people to be assured they were charged the correct amount.

    The cashier (as far as I’ve ever seen) is the one who enters the amount to be charged when using debit/credit, and this is only ever shown on an LCD display panel, and printed on a paper receipt that doesn’t include braille.

    I guess the reason they haven’t tried to remedy this (beyond that it would definitely be a large burden, changing out all of those machines), is that with credit or debit, if someone was charged the wrong amount, at some later date it could be discovered and the person responsible could be identified.

  21. SN says:

    #20 “I don’t trust people that are nice.”

    Or who listens to Loverboy!

  22. OmarTheAlien says:

    In order to prove my niceness I would be ecstatically happy to help the lady in the picture interpret the bills, holding her hand in mine while together we trace the outline of whatever dead president graces her bills.

  23. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #19 – The only reason why cash is accepted and used is because we have a government that is trusted.

    By whom?

  24. Arbo Cide says:

    The logic of that court ruling is pretty ridiculous. It’s almost entirely a wish list of what the activist group wants, and talking about how countries are doing things like that. Well then go to Congress and get them to pass it. Maybe I should sue John Dvorak for not making his site more accessible


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