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RE: The Blind and American Paper Currency

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RE: The Blind and American Paper Currency

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind strongly opposed federal court involvement in issues regarding changing paper currency because the argument presented to the court stated that the blind of America were being unlawfully made victims of discrimination because they lacked “meaningful access” to paper money on the basis that it was impossible for the blind to use paper currency independently, a patently untrue argument we feared judges would believe--fears confirmed by the opinions of the judges who considered the matter; and

WHEREAS, despite the courts' contrary holdings, which are largely the result of factual errors, we remain convinced that blind people have meaningful access to currency, in other words that there is no discrimination against the blind given that we regularly conduct daily business using American paper currency as it now exists; and

WHEREAS, many of the factual suppositions and much of the language included in legal briefs and in opinions issued by both the federal District Court and federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. (language such as the blind are the “most vulnerable individuals in our society”) indicate that the judiciary has low expectations of blind people and treats our routine, daily alternative techniques as badges of inferiority which can only serve to make us objects of pity—a perception that could have extreme, grievous, detrimental impact on the ability of blind people to achieve the equality that we so richly deserve; and

WHEREAS, this attack upon the blind was conducted by judges who had sworn to tell the truth and to uphold the laws of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the judicial decisions depict the blind in a false light, asserting that we who are blind have little capacity and less understanding of our own financial resources and of the other accidents of society that surround us; and

WHEREAS, the irony of these judicial determinations is that the blind are told we are incompetent in decisions that base their justification on nondiscrimination principles; and

WHEREAS, as we stated in a 1994 resolution (and as we reaffirm today), “Bills which can be identified by other than conventional print [that is, in nonvisual ways] could be more convenient for everyone, may be a necessity to safeguard against counterfeiting, and may be desirable to take the best advantage of evolving technology”: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2008, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization urge the United States Department of the Treasury to consider means to make currency more identifiable by the blind and thereby more convenient for a greater portion of the population of the country; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist upon being well represented in any process intended to redesign American currency or to promulgate or create means to identify it in nonvisual ways.

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