Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 11:22 UK

US is told to revamp dollar notes

$5 and $10 bills
The US government has redesigned several of its notes in recent years

The US government has been told to change the size or texture of its banknotes because it is difficult for blind people to tell the notes apart.

A US federal appeals court upheld a ruling that having all dollar notes the same size and texture was unacceptable.

The judges voted two to one to reject the government's claim that changing note sizes would be too expensive.

The Treasury Department was concerned about the potential costs of redesigning vending machines.

"A large majority of other currency systems have accommodated the visually impaired, and the secretary does not explain why US currency should be any different," Judge Judith Rogers wrote in the court's opinion.

New notes

The case was brought by the American Council for the Blind, which proposed several solutions such as different note sizes for different denominations, embossed dots or raised printing.

The US should make the US currency available to all who use it - blind or otherwise
BBC News website reader Benet Schirber, Minnesota, USA

The Treasury Department said it was reviewing the ruling.

According to documents filed in the case, 937,000 people in the US are legally blind while another 2.4 million count as having low vision, meaning they are unable to read newspaper print.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints the notes, has commissioned a report looking at how to better serve the blind.

Redesigned banknotes have been brought out in recent years to make counterfeiting more difficult, including a new $20 bill in 2003, $10 bill in 2006 and a $5 bill earlier this year.

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