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U.S. Currency Needs to Be Accessible for All

Photo: Courtesy of Mathieu Turle

Since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which required all federal programs and services to be made accessible for people with disabilities, Americans who are blind and visually impaired have advocated for equal access to U.S. currency, but to no avail. 

While over 128 countries have been able to do this by simply adding physical features to their paper currency, the U.S. Department of Treasury continues to sideline its obligation.  

After decades of attempts to rectify the action with the Treasury, the ACB filed a lawsuit in 2002 to change the U.S. currency to make paper money distinguishable by each denomination and thus accessible to those living with vision loss. The Courts swung in favor of ACB, and in 2008 gave direction to the Administration to require the next currency redesign be made accessible. However, Treasury filed a request to delay the action until 2026, which was granted, pushing the earliest redesign of an entire generation beyond the 2008 ruling. 

As background, currency redesign typically would occur every 7-10 years for security purposes, to combat counterfeiting. It has now been 15 years and no changes have been made — only more delays. 

Over the past year, a resurgence for an updated currency has grown around the voices of those calling for an updated redesign with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. 

Now is the time to take action and provide access to those millions with vision loss in this country. This Administration must make accessible U.S. currency a reality, without any more delays.

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