Discriminatory Bill Ruling Could Impair Retailers

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Discriminatory Bill Ruling Could Impair Retailers

Convenience store registers will become outdated if U.S. District Judge James Robertson's ruling is maintained. Recently, the judge ruled that the design of U.S. currency discriminates against the blind, due to its uniform size and shape, The Associated Press reported.

He has ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to resolve the issue, but declined to say how. The American Council of the Blind proposed to change the shape of some bills or by adding dots, similar to Braille, or raised ink, the report stated.

"Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations," Robertson wrote in the ruling. "More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired."

U.S. paper money has not always been uniform, however. In 1929, the government standardized the size and decreased all bills by approximately 30 percent to lower manufacturing costs and distinguish between genuine and counterfeit notes, the report stated.

Opponents of the ruling believe that counterfeiting could become easier if such actions were taken, but the judge stood firm. "The fact that each of these features is currently used in other currencies suggests that, at least on the face of things, such accommodations are reasonable," he wrote.

The ruling noted that the government violates the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs, the AP reported. The ruling came after a four-year legal fight.

Although electronic products are available to help visually impaired people distinguish bills, complaints that they are slow, expensive and unreliable are frequent, the report stated. Oftentimes, the blind ask store clerks for assistance.

"It's just frankly unfair that blind people should have to rely on the good faith of people they have never met in knowing whether they've been given the correct change," Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told the AP.

Others devise their own method. Melanie Brunson, a member of the American Council of the Blind, told the court that she folds her bills into different shapes, the report stated. Brunson said $1 bills stay straight, $5 bills are folded in half left to right, $10 bills in half top to bottom and $20 in quarters.

The government has 10 days to appeal the decision which was made on Tuesday.