I've been hesitant to weigh in on the issue of accessible currency, mainly because I figured everyone already knew where I stand. But as the discussion, and the politics have developed further, I feel like I should say something.
I find the arguments against accessible currency patronizing and disturbing. Why we as a human race insist on shooting ourselves in the foot just to prove a point is something I will never understand. I'm guilty of this figure of speech from time to time, too, so I'm not just pointing fingers. But I have yet to hear a logical argument against accessible paper money.
The most baffling argument to me is the argument that it will decrease our chances for employment. The only explanation I've heard for this is that people will hear the contraversy, or see the accommodation and feel that we blind people are too much trouble to hire. This is simply not the case. Having money we can identify independently will actually make it easier for a blind person to get a job. As others have said, a young person, or person with less experience will have a better chance of getting a job where the changing of money is necessary. And what about those who are blind vendors? Wouldn't being able to confirm denominations be a major asset? I know that we CAN handle these jobs, but until we can positively identify our bills, we're always going to have a larger margin of error. I can understand the hesitance for an employer when they think about their cashier going on the word of the customer as to what they've just received. Yeah, most people may be honest, but that's not very comforting to an employer. And in an area where theft is more common, this will be a larger barrier.
The accommodations that have been suggested by the government and others aren't feasible, in my opinion. The first, just using plastic for everything doesn't work. Not every place takes credit, debit and check cards. My favorite coffee shop at home doesn't take them, and a lot of times, it's not possible to pay smaller businesses with these types of payment. And just because it's a smaller business doesn't mean that I can always trust the cashier. The other option, a purchased currency reader, is expensive, and I've heard it's less accurate. Why should I be forced to pay $300 or more for an inaccurate product? I'm aware that
has a software currency converter, but I don't take my laptop everywhere, and I doubt other customerss would appreciate waiting for me to unpack my laptop and scanner and scan the bills before I give them to the cashier and after I receive them from him/her. And unless the government is prepared to distribute these bill readers to every legally blind person within a very reasonable timeframe from when they are declared legally blind (and reasonable is not equal to four to eight weeks), I don't think they're providing me with equal access to the denomination of my money.
One of the major tasks that one should be able to perform with money (a product produced by the government), is the ability to identify it. That's a task, and it's major. I'd challenge anyone who doesn't think identifying money is important to not look at their money at all for a week. No fair only using credit cards either.
I feel very strongly about this. And I have the fortune of being comfortable with how to handle things as a blind person. For me, blindness is a gift, something I've grown used to and don't consider a barrier. I know how to negotiate these types of barriers, but I still find them frustrating. I worry for the newly blinded person who has to learn that not everyone is trustworthy, figure out a system for organizing their money and deal with these things without a good support system.
Here are two links for more context:
Blue's most excellent round up of links on this issue
Marlaina's commentary and some other info you should see...