WASHINGTON — Fox- American paper money represents an unfair impediment to the blind, and the Treasury Department must come up with new U.S. currency to help the visually impaired use cash, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson said keeping all U.S. currency the same size and texture violates the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs.

“Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations,” Robertson wrote in his ruling. “More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired.”

Day Al-Mohamed, director of advocacy and government affairs at the American Council of the Blind, said that most of the world’s currency is distinguished by color, size, perforations or tactile symbols. The Euro, for instance, can be determined by the length of the bill — the higher the denomination the longer the bill.

I am somewhat sympathetic here, for reasons that long time readers and friends will know… but as a practical matter, I don’t think what the judge is asking for is attainable. 

And would I be wrong and noting the surname of the individual who is the director of advocacy at the ACB? Let’s see, what can we do to throw the state of American currency into confusion?  Hmmm. Arrange an order to remake all of it, on some pretext? And who would want to create such chaos?

And by the way, not all advocates for the blind are so-minded:

John Paré, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s largest organization representing blind people, said identifying the money is hardly the most difficult obstacle for the blind to overcome.

“The focus for improving the lives of blind Americans needs to be put on earning money not figuring out how to identify money,” he said. “Over 70 percent of blind Americans are under-employed or unemployed and this is what needs to be addressed.

“It really is distracting to have this lawsuit,” he said, since assistance should concentrate on people “who don’t have the money in the first place.”

There’s a statement I can vouch for. 

Update: (Bit)

A Little More to the Right notes the same story and says:

It doesn’t have to stop with the blind. Judges can begin ruling against Apple for making Ipods, since deaf people are left out. Or what about American Idol for excluding dumb people? And think of how unfair it is that obese people can’t shop for their sizes at Deb or Victoria’s Secret?

Well, the money functionality issue is a bit more of an imperative than these, but still, I take Jeff’s point.

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