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New US Currency for Blind People?

And . . . everyone else?

Summer 2008


The US government has fought a battle for several years. . . . A battle against the blind . . . or perhaps we should say against advocates for the visually impaired.   


What's the battle about?


Basically, the dispute hinges on our nations currency and how easily US paper money could be improved to assist both those who can see well and those who can't. 


Although the denominations of US coins can be distinguished by touch, all US currency (paper money) feels basically the same to someone who can't see.  Some foreign governments have made inroads to improving their paper money, so that different denominations can be distinguished by touch (raised numbers) or by the physical size of the note. 


US Silver Certificate $1 Bill

US Currency is set to change.

US Paper money still retains many of the same features as seen in this "Silver Certificate" one dollar bill.


Judge orders change in US paper money


Paper money printed in 2009 may be the first of a new breed of US dollars.  According to a decision by US District Judge James Robertson, the Treasury Department must produce paper money that does not discriminate against the blind.


As a first step in the development process, the US treasury has contracted with a private contractor to provide consultation and ideas in how best to change our 2009 currency.  "The government must have effective ways that  help the blind distinguish between the different values of paper money."


New US Currency coming in 2009?


2009 currency requirements that the US Treasury needs to consider include: being able to print such notes efficiently; the currency has to be able to withstand the wear and tear it receives during handling and use during everyday commerce, cost effective production of new paper money, and ensuring that new designs are difficult to copy or counterfeit.  $5, $10, $20, and $50 bills will likely be the first of this new generation of 2009 US currency. 


New 2009 paper money? 

Treasury says "Wait a minute. Let us think this  through."


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Government attorneys have asked the judge to allow this development process to progress as they redesign our nations paper money.  The government's concern is that they produce designs that can not be easily  counterfeited and are well thought through.  However, the judge said he would not let the Treasury department progress on it's own terms or at a slow pace. 


At this point in time, the US Treasury has pretty well used up all their appeal rights.  It is possible that the new currency won't be printed until 2010.  However, it looks like all US citizens will be using a new blind-friendly 2009 $5 bill, or some other size of 2009 paper money very soon.


The American Council for the Blind brought up this lawsuit.  The judge ordered them to submit a "schedule" or plan for the printing/release of the new blind-compatible paper money.  More details have not been released at the time of this writing.

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