Treasury Ordered to Make U.S. Bills Blind-Friendly

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A federal judge orders the Treasury Department to make changes in the way in prints money, so it will be easier for the blind to tell bills apart.

The ruling, in response to an American Council of the Blind lawsuit, proposes several options: printing bills of different sizes; adding embossed dots; and using raised ink.

The Treasury Department says the proposals are too expensive. It has 10 days to decide whether to appeal.

Is That a George Washington in My Pocket?

Dutch banknotes

These Dutch banknotes were designed with raised marks to help visually impaired people. Audrius Tomonis / Banknotes Images hide caption

itoggle caption Audrius Tomonis / Banknotes Images

You might not know who's buried in Grant's tomb, but you may soon know whether he's in your pocket. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Treasury Department must include features on all banknotes to give visually impaired people access to money. (That includes Grant, who's on the $50 bill.)

"Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency," Judge James Robertson wrote in his decision, "only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations. Every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired."

If the U.S. changes dollar designs (the government has 10 days to appeal Robertson's decision), options include watermarks, different-sized bills — even different colors. Here’s how other countries do it.



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