Release Date: 
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Chris Danielsen
Public Relations Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Denounces Ruling on Accessible Paper Money Lawsuit

Baltimore, Maryland (May 20, 2008): Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a ruling that could force a redesign of U.S. paper currency so that blind people can distinguish denominations by touch.  

National Federation of the Blind President, Dr. Marc Maurer, said: “Today’s ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is profoundly misguided and may unintentionally do real harm to blind Americans.  Hundreds of thousands of blind people use paper money every day without difficulty.  We hope that this ruling will not have the unintended consequence of reinforcing society’s misconception that blind people are unable to function in the world as it currently is.  Identifying items by touch (including currency) is convenient, but not essential to blind people being able to participate fully in society.  For a court to say that if we cannot identify it by touch, we can't use it is a fiction and a dangerous one.  Millions of items that cannot be identified by touch must be managed by the blind in business, industry, and education every day.  We are successfully managing all of these endeavors, and the court's ruling challenges our ability to do so without any supporting evidence. 

If America really wants to improve opportunities for education and employment of the blind, then it should focus on providing Braille instruction to the 90 percent of blind children who are not getting it, effective training for the 70 percent of blind adults who are unemployed, and books for the approximately 300,000 people who are about to be locked out of the only library for the blind.”