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D.C. Circuit Rules That Paper Money Discriminates Against the Blind

The Blog of the Legal Times reports that the D.C. Circuit, by a 2-1 decision, affirmed the ruling of the lower court that paper money discriminates against the blind in violation of Section 504 of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The court found that the plaintiff, the American Council of the Blind, had shown that the current design of paper money denies the blind "meaningful access" to use and the defendant Treasury Department failed to adequately support its claims that changing existing currency design -- for example, creating differentiated bill sizes -- would create an undue burden on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Judge Randolph dissented, stating that the appeal was interlocutory and should never have been permitted.  However, Randolph also disagreed with the majority's assessment of the merits, finding that measures such as differentiating bill sizes would cost both the government and the private sector billions of dollars to alter ATM and vending machines and (horrors!) would render most current purses and wallets obsolete.

There are two interesting trivia points worth noting. According to Jurist, the United States is the only nation of some 180 using paper currency that produces same-size, undifferentiated bills in all denominations. And D.C. Circuit Judge David Tatel (who was not on the panel) is blind.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 20, 2008 at 05:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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