A federal appeals court recently heard arguments in a case that could force the government to redesign its currency to make it more identifiable by the blind.

The government's appeal seeks to overturn a November 2006 ruling ordering the Treasury Department to make changes to paper currency. A federal judge said changes were required in keeping with the 1973 Rehabilitation Act prohibiting discrimination against the disabled in government programs.

But two of the three appellate judges sounded skeptical of the case brought by the American Council of the Blind and questioned the reach of the court ruling in the group's favor.

"Where does this stop?" asked Judge A. Raymond Randolph. "Are postage stamps illegal? Government Web sites? When mail carriers leave handwritten notes on front doors, are they discriminating against blind people?" ...

However, even the one judge who appeared sympathetic to the American Council of the Blind's position wondered whether it was appropriate for the court to get involved in the debate since the Treasury Department is reviewing the issue.

The judges were concerned about the court being asked to make an end run around the political process. However, with that having failed so far to resolve the matter, the court may ultimately be asked to determine whether or how to accommodate the needs of the blind and visually impaired.

Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times

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