Did you know that of the more than 180 nations that issue paper currency, the United States is the only nation which makes no effort to make its paper currency accessible by blind and visually impaired individuals?
In early 2000, The American Council of the Blind (ACB) filed a civil law suit against the US Treasury Department arguing under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that U.S. currency must be fully accessible to people with disabilities. In 2008, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of the ACB, instructing the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury to take steps to make U.S. currency fully accessible. Until that actually becomes a reality, money identifiers have become a popular method of identifying paper currency for people who are blind or have low vision.
There are a number of smartphone apps available for currency identification, and some other portable devices that scan the physical bill and offer a variety of ways to notify the user of the denomination. Low-tech solutions that have been in use for years by people who are blind, are specific ways of folding each denomination or using wallets with several dividers.
Here’s how long your paper money generally survives in circulation:
- $1: 5.9 years
- $5: 4.9 years
- $10: 4.2 years
- $20: 7.7 years
- $50 – 3.7 years
- $100 – 15 years
Thanks to the ADA, the United States of America will one day soon be numbered among those nations that provide accessible currency.