ACB Vows to Continue the Battle for Accessible Currency

American Council of the Blind
1155 15th Street NW,
Suite 1004,
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081 (800) 424-8666
Fax: (202) 467-5085
Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, Chair, ACB Public Relations Committee

December 12, 2006

American Council of the Blind Vows to Continue the Battle for Accessible Paper Currency in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals

For Immediate Release

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) has made clear its intention to continue the court battle for accessible currency pursuant to the ruling in its favor by the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia and despite opposition by the Bush Administration.

“We anticipated that the U.S. Department of the Treasury would appeal the DC District Court ruling and were not surprised when The Department of Justice filed an appeal today on behalf of Treasury,” said Christopher Gray, ACB’s President.

“Treasury complains about the costs of making currency accessible,” Gray added “but they are not at all concerned about the cost of litigation.”

“We are committed to this fight even to the Supreme Court, if necessary, because it is the right thing to do, and because it is the law of the United States,” Gray said.

Melanie Brunson, American Council of the Blind’s Executive Director was not immediately available for comment. She is finishing up a week long trip to Tokyo, Japan where she was a featured speaker addressing an international conference on accessibility to audio and video programming for the blind and visually impaired.

Estimates of the numbers of blind and visually impaired Americans who will benefit from accessible paper currency range from 3.3 million to 10 million. This estimate, however, does not take into account the tens of millions of Americans who are beginning to experience sight loss because of age. The senior citizens are often not included in the visually impaired category, but many of them express problems with reading currency in dim light, particularly at night in gas stations and convenience stores.

“It seems to us that the argument of those groups opposing our position is poorly founded since no specific method of making the currency accessible has been put forward,” Gray said. “Estimates of potential costs to vending machine operators and to cash register changes are simply unfounded at this time.”

In reaching his ruling in the Federal District Court, Judge James Robertson noted that of 180 nations printing paper currency only the United States makes no effort to make the currency accessible without vision.

As for small elements within the blind community who have voiced opposition Gray said that it is hard to find unanimity within any sector of the American society on any issue. “The blind community would not have succeeded in moving into active participation in any sector of our society without steps to make material generated in print accessible in some way from printed books to computer screens,” Gray said. “We still have a long way to go to level the playing field and the currency suit is merely one effort among many sponsored by the American Council of the Blind,” he said.

The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Organized through more than seventy affiliates in every community in the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in every aspect of American society. For more information on the American Council of the Blind, and the issues it supports visit www.acb.org.