WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), an optometrist, joined his colleagues Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today pushed for the United States to begin producing paper currency that includes tactile features to allow Americans who are blind or visually impaired to quickly differentiate between different monetary values.
In a letter to the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the senators noted there are more than 180 countries that issue paper money, but the United States alone continues to print currency in identical sizes and colors. Without the ability to tell different bills apart by touch, Americans who are blind or visually impaired have more difficulty using cash to make purchases.
“It is paramount that all Americans are able to engage in commerce, including the approximately 24.7 million Americans experiencing difficulty seeing, even when wearing their glasses or contacts,” the senators said. “Accordingly, we would like to inquire into the status, cost, and timeline for implementation of tactile features on Federal Reserve Notes.”
Courts ordered the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008 to provide “meaningful access” to paper currency for Americans who are blind and visually impaired. In 2011, the Treasury Department outlined three steps the department would take to create better accessibility, including a raised tactile feature to allow visually impaired persons to differentiate currency by touch.
The Treasury Department set a target date for beginning to issue bills with a tactile feature by 2020, but has since said it is years behind schedule.