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Federal court rules US currency discriminates against the blind

[JURIST] The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] Tuesday upheld [decision, PDF] a district court ruling [JURIST report] that the design of US paper currency discriminates against the blind in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 [US DOL materials]. The court found that the plaintiff in the case, American Council of the Blind [advocacy website], had shown that the current design denied the blind "meaningful access" to the use of the paper currency, and that there are facially reasonable accommodations, such as differentiated bill sizes, that could be made to grant access. The court also ruled that the government had not adequately supported its claims [JURIST report] that making such changes would create an undue burden on either the Bureau of Engraving and Printing [official website] in the manufacture of the bills, or third parties such as the vending machine industry in their processing. AP has more.

The United States is the only nation [JURIST report] of some 180 using paper currency that produces same-size, undifferentiated bills in all denominations. Approximately 1.3 million Americans are legally blind. The case has now been remanded to the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] to determine the appropriate form of relief to grant the Council.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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