Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Refers Treasury's Appeal to Its Merits Panel

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

For Immediate Release

March 2, 2007

Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Refers Treasury's Appeal to Its Merits Panel

This week, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an order referring the U.S. Department of the Treasury's appeal of a district court decision to a merits panel of judges. This panel will set a schedule requiring briefs to be submitted by both the Treasury and the American Council of the Blind on whether the appeals court should take up the appeal.

"We regard this action as neither a victory nor a setback in our efforts to secure accessible paper currency," said Melanie Brunson, executive director of the American Council of the Blind. "We expected the appeal to take time and more legal work on our part."

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) brought the original suit in federal district court, alleging that the Department of the Treasury violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.  794, by its repeated and continuing failures to design and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired people.

The district court issued an order on November 28 in which it agreed that the Treasury Department was in violation of the accessibility requirements of the act. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, represented by the Department of Justice, filed an appeal of that decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in early December.

"Our membership is very dedicated to this issue and we are committed to working for a successful conclusion to the court action," Brunson said.

Christopher Gray, President of the American Council of the Blind, said that the accessible currency suit is merely one aspect of ACB's overall effort to guarantee to blind and visually impaired Americans the same privacy rights as sighted Americans in handling currency, as well as in dealing with credit cards at ATMs and in store purchases.

"We have made great strides in the ATM arena," he said. "We have a good start on the process of getting retailers to use credit card reading devices that are accessible, but it will take a long time to complete this work."

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. Comprised of more than 70 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.