Comptroller Thompson speaks from behind a podium.  Alberta Orr stands to his left, Dawn Suvino to his right.

Comptroller William Thompson calls for the Treasury to redesign the currency with Alberta L. Orr, Executive Director of the Disabilities Network (left) and Dawn Suvino of Network Member VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (right). Photo courtesy of the Comptroller's Office.


Message to Treasury:

Stop Discriminating Against the Visually Impaired

Decision Hailed as "an Equalizer," "Sensible," "Forward-Thinking"

The United States Department of Treasury must redesign U.S. currency with tactile or visual cues for people with blindness and low vision, said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson and the Disabilities Network at a June 2 press conference. Several Network Members joined to call on the the Treasury to accept the recent Federal Appeals Court decision that the currency discriminates against Americans with limited vision and must be changed.

The decision is "an equalizer for people who are blind or visually impaired," said Alberta L. Orr, Disabilities Network Executive Director, enabling them "to manage currency independently without human assistance or the assistance of costly technology such as specialized high cost paper currency identifiers. Human assistance means depending on other people, including merchants to identify the correct denominations without taking advantage of a blind customer."

"It's time for the United States to get in line with the rest of the world. Hopefully the Treasury will conform and decide to move forward for the good of all who are blind," said Mike Godino of Network Members American Council of the Blind and Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled.

"More than 100 countries vary the size of their paper currency, or add other features that can be distinguished by touch," said Thompson, calling the court's decision "sensible, forward-thinking and long overdue."

Tara Cortes of Network Member Lighthouse International testified that "as baby boomers get older and diseases like diabetes and macular degeneration increase dramatically, millions more will be affected by vision loss," adding that the change is "the right step to take."

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