A federal judge has declared the government discriminates against blind people by printing paper money that all feels the same. You can’t tell a five from a fifty without looking at it, but Michael Barber with the National Federation for the Blind Iowa chapter, doesn’t find that a big problem. Barber’s been blind all his life, and says he’s successfully been able to keep track of his cash by folding the bills in certain ways. “Ask five or ten blind guys how they do it,” he suggests, and you’ll hear a lot of different tips. The judge suggested the U-S Treasury put raised bumps like Braille lettering on some bills, or make them different sizes. Barber says he’s not cheering the suggestions. “I think it would add a huge expense,” Barber says. “They’d have to create new money, basically.” He says it’s put an undue burden on the government and he doesn’t think it’s necessary. He says in addition to making new currency, businesses would have to rebuild their dollar-bill changers, and the government would have to teach people to use the new bills. Barber says you’d have to teach people which of the new bills is which, and he doesn’t think new moneys needed. “We’ve been able to take care of business…I’ve only been cheated a very few times.” And as for coins, he says they’re no problem to handle. “Your dime has the rough edge on it,” he points out, a penny’s a bit bigger and smooth-edged, the nickel’s larger and thicker, the quarter’s larger than that and a half-dollar larger still. “I have no trouble handling change.” What he would like to see is a standard for software, so computer users with no or low vision could use programs that rely on images read from the monitor. Barber is president of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa. A different group, the American Council of the Blind, mounted the legal challenge.

Related web sites:
National Federation of the Blind Iowa Chapter