The president of an Iowa organization isn’t happy with a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that says blind people are discriminated against because they can’t identify different denominations of paper money. National Federation of the Blind of Iowa president, Mike Barber, says the ruling is "misguided."
"We just think it’s a ruling that sends the wrong message about the capabilities of blind people," Barber says. Barber says he is almost 59 and has been using money all his life and has been cheated only once, and that person was caught. Barber says the fight to change money paints a poor picture of the blind.
"To say that blind people cannot function, or to even indicate that at all, if we can tell the difference between the different denominations is terrible," Barber says, "it sends a message that we just can’t function. That’s not the message we want to send. Barber says blind people want to send the message to give them jobs as blind people so they can earn this money, and they’ll spend it as blind people, just as a sighted person does.
Those in favor of the ruling want the treasury to redesign paper money to include raised numbers or denominations of different sizes. Barber says that would be a waste. He says it’s not an issue that we should be throwing millions of dollars at, as there are more important issues. For example, Barber says there’s concern over hybrid cars, which are so quiet they pose a hazard to blind people. Barber says there are other concerns for the blind that need to be addressed too.
Barber says an example is insurance companies and other companies that are scanning documents that go on the computer and are read by people at call centers. He says blind people can’t read those documents, and it pushes them out of jobs. "Those things are a lot more important to me than whether I can tell the difference between a 10 and a 20," Barber says. Barber says blind people struggle to get jobs and earn money. The American Council for the Blind brought the suit the led to the recent ruling in Washington, D.C.