Alexandria, VA — On Friday, February 19, 2021, the American Council of the Blind sent the following letter to Secretary Yellen and the U.S. Treasury regarding the proposed Harriet Tubman redesign of the $20 bill.
According to recent press reports, as well as statements from the White House Press Office, the Biden Administration is considering accelerating the redesign of the $20 bill to incorporate a picture of Harriet Tubman. The Council welcomes such a redesign, provided that the newly redesigned bill incorporates an accessibility feature for the blind and visually impaired. Inclusion of an accessibility feature is required by the federal district court’s injunctive order dated Oct. 3, 2008, which mandates that accessibility be provided in all future currency redesigns. See Am. Council of the Blind v. Paulson, 581 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2008).
The American Council of the Blind has been striving for accessible currency for the past 45 years. U.S. paper currency of all denominations is of the same size, shape, and texture. The currency of the United States is the only major currency in the world which does not incorporate an accessibility feature for the blind and visually impaired. The time to rectify this injustice has long since passed.
Our currency stands as a symbol for who we are as a nation. As a nation, we must be committed to equality for all people, including those with visual disabilities. It is therefore imperative that the next redesign incorporate an accessibility feature. This action is not only required by the injunctive order issued by the court; it is also the right thing to do.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to make a significant milestone in history in two ways. First, by implementing the court mandate of 2008 and making the bill accessible, the U.S. would join 81 other countries who already provide accessible currency for people who are blind and visually impaired. Secondly, placing Harriet Tubman’s picture on the $20 bill would be historic as she would be the first person of color to be pictured on U.S. currency. I encourage the Department of Printing & Engraving to implement both of these actions,” said Peggy R. Garrett, chair of ACB’s Multicultural Affairs Committee.
The American Council of the Blind is a national grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With more than 65 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Learn more by visiting www.acb.org.