Federal judge rules US currency discriminates against blind

[JURIST] In a Tuesday ruling [PDF], Judge James Robertson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] declared that "the Treasury Department’s failure to design and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired individuals violates section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act." Section 504 [US DOL materials] provides that no disabled person shall be "subjected to discrimination . . . under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency." In support of its decision, the court noted that over half of all countries that print their currency vary its size to aid the blind, and the others make use of varying texture or other indicators. The court rejected the government's arguments that the change would be cost prohibitive, increase counterfeiting, and disrupt international recognition of US currency. Robertson wrote:

Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they lack meaningful access to US currency. They have put forth several potential accommodations that are reasonable on their face. The government has not sustained its burden of showing that any of them would be unduly burdensome to implement... I will grant plaintiffs’ prayer for a declaratory judgment.
The American Council of the Blind [advocacy website] filed the action four years ago. Under 28 USC s.1292(b) [text], the government has ten days to appeal the ruling. AP has more.


 

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