HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, December 1, 2006

Treasury Must Make Money Changes for Disabled

This week, in American Council for the Blind v. Paulson, a federal district judge ruled that the U.S. Treasury must make it possible for individuals with visual impairments to distinquish between paper money denominations.  According to the AP:

Give blind people a way to tell a $20 bill from a single, says a judge who told the government to change the nation's paper money so it doesn't all feel the same.   

For a fuller discussion of the case and its importance, please click hereYou can find the full opinion here

Thanks to Joseph A. Hodnicki for the case link!

U.S. District Judge James Robertson on Tuesday ordered the Treasury Department to start working on the problem, leaving it up to government officials to determine the best solution. Possible changes include making bills of differing sizes or adding embossed dots or raised ink.

The government has 10 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling. The Treasury Department had no immediate comment.

Robertson said U.S. paper money violates the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs. The opinion came after a four-year legal fight.

Electronic devices are available to help blind people differentiate between bills, but many complain that they are slow, expensive and unreliable. Visually impaired shoppers frequently rely on store clerks to help them.

"It's just frankly unfair that blind people should have to rely on the good faith of people they have never met in knowing whether they've been given the correct change," said Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for the blind plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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