In a letter issued to the United States Department of the Treasury on April 28, the National Council on Disability demanded that the agency move forward on long-promised reforms to make the dollar bill accessible to people with visual disabilities.
“The issue of accessible paper currency in this nation is a critical issue of civil rights for millions of Americans with disabilities, and has been litigated and confirmed by the courts,” the NCD wrote in the letter. “The National Council on Disability therefore respectfully requests that the Treasury Department clarify and confirm that tactile features will be incorporated into every redesign and introduction of currency going forward.”
In 2008, in a lawsuit filed by the American Council of the Blind, the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that the dollar bill, in its current form, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ever since, the NCD, an independent federal agency, and other disability advocates have negotiated with the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Secret Service to create a new bill that would include a series of braille cells, allowing people with visual disabilities to differentiate between the five-dollar bill, ten-dollar bill etc.
According to the letter, the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing told disability advocates that the braille cells would be included in the redesigned ten-dollar bill.
But much to advocates’ dismay, accessibility concerns have disappeared from the discussion surrounding the bills’ redesign.
“The National Council on Disability was both surprised and concerned that the recent announcement regarding redesign of currency completely excludes any mention of inclusion of tactile features on any of the future bills, and the Bureau’s subsequent confirmation that the ten dollar bill will not carry the tactile feature as promised,” the NCD wrote in the letter. “While the public has been effectively engaged in selecting the face of the person who will hold the privileged place on American currency, accessibility features are once again, completely ignored.”