The Impact of the Currency Decision:

The NYT reports on the reaction among the blind and visually impaired to the D.C. Circuit's ruling that the Treasury Department's failure to accommodate the visually impaired violates the Rehabilitation Act.

About 16.5 million Americans are blind or partly blind, a number that is expected to double by 2030 because of an aging population and the prevalence of diabetes, said Tara A. Cortes, president of Lighthouse International, a nonprofit organization based in New York that addresses the problems caused by loss of vision. . . .

James A. Kutsch, the president of the Seeing Eye Inc. of Morristown, N.J., a nonprofit guide dog school, said the court decision would mean greater independence for people with vision loss.

"Currently, identifying money requires either the assistance of another person or use of technology," he said, referring to portable or computer-based scanners that read aloud the denominations of paper money but can cost more than $250.

"Both have limitations," Mr. Kutsch said. "Not everyone's a techie — not everyone wants to use or can afford to use this technology. And with the low-tech option of asking someone else, you have to rely on the integrity of the person you ask, and the availability." . . .

We hope that this ruling will not have the unintended consequence of reinforcing society's misconception that blind people are unable to function in the world as it currently is," Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said in a statement.

"If America really wants to improve opportunities for education and employment of the blind, then it should focus on providing Braille instruction to the 90 percent of blind children who are not getting it, effective training for the 70 percent of blind adults who are unemployed," and Congressional cuts affecting the Library of Congress's Talking Books program.

Melanie Brunson, the executive director of the American Council of the Blind, which brought the lawsuit in 2002, said new paper currency could help address the unemployment rate among the blind, opening up many entry-level jobs in fast food or retail.

She said adding tactile features to bills, as Canada has done, could be a good solution.

"We've seen some fairly old Canadian bills, and the dots hold up pretty well as far as I know," she said. And because many vending machines take only $1 bills, not all machines would have to be refitted, especially if the $1 bill was left in its current form, she said.