Years ago, Americans would see paper money from other countries and smile. The colors, sizes and shapes made the bills look like Monopoly money. It hardly seemed real.
Now, the wheel has come around and American currency is under fire for being out of step with the world. All those cookie-cutter greenbacks in the United States, it seems, bedevil sight-impaired citizens. And where other nations have taken steps to solve the problem, the United States lags behind.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled it's time for the treasury to make money that's more friendly for people with disabilities.
We agree. Blind people have learned to cope with American money, of course, but they must rely on strangers to count it for them. The nation has made adjustments to accommodate the disabled in the past. Tweaking the currency should be a small matter.
Opponents feel the government is overstepping its bounds that the visually impaired can't see sunsets and other things, so life is by nature unfair.
But if Americans had an easy way to make sunsets available to the blind, wouldn't the country do it?
The country can't change the sunset for them. But it can alter the currency. In fact, the $5 bill already has a giant, purple "5" on it to help those with vision problems. Other changes being suggested include making the bills different sizes though the vending-machine industry sees that as a nightmare. Embossed lettering or Braille writing on the bills are also options.
In the end, even some advocates for the blind balk at tinkering with the currency. They say that discrimination means having something denied to you, and blind people are not denied access to money. But the arguments of Kim Charlson of the Perkins School for the Blind ring true. "When there are so few things in your life that you've got control over," Charlson says, "being able to even take care of your own money is such a big step."
Don't let those who grouse about government intervention poison a fine idea.