It has been suggested that blind people don’t need a change to paper currency; instead, the argument goes, they can just use credit cards to make all of their purchases. Those who embrace this line of reasoning fail to realize that many credit card machines require entering information through flat touch screens—which are inaccessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Since the keys on a flat touch screen are not distinguishable by touch, blind and visually impaired people have many of the same accessibility problems with these machines that they have with our currency. Also, many stores do not even accept credit cards, and many of those that do require a minimum purchase for the “privilege” of using a credit card. Not to mention the number of local service providers (taxicab drivers, babysitters, landscapers, and more) who cannot accept credit cards. Of course, all of those arguments pale in comparison to the argument, “Why should blind and visually impaired people have to pay interest on their purchases simply because of their lack of eyesight?” Do those who promote the credit card solution to the currency identification challenges faced by blind and visually impaired Americans really believe that’s a fair result?
Some may respond that blind and visually impaired Americans don’t need to pay interest if they use a debit card instead of a conventional credit card. The problem with that argument is that in order to use a debit card, unlike a credit card, you must enter your personal identification number. This forces blind and visually impaired Americans, at stores with flat touch screen credit card machines, to tell their PIN number to a total stranger. Surely, no one thinks that is a good idea.
Even if blind or visually impaired people are willing to use conventional credit cards or if their debit cards can be used like credit cards, they must still sign for most purchases. For a myriad of reasons, many blind people would have difficulty signing their names. Whether it is because they need assistance finding where to sign on the inaccessible touch screen, or whether it is because they have not yet learned how to sign their names in print (either manually or using a personal hand stamp), these blind people are effectively precluded from using credit cards to make purchases.
It is true that credit cards can sometimes be more convenient than cash, but it is equally true that there are many instances where using a credit card is either not an option or far less convenient than using cash. We would never tolerate a system that required all people to charge every one of their purchases, so why is it acceptable to expect blind people to do so? If we did decide that all people needed to use credit cards, society would have to change in many ways to make their use easier. For one thing, there would be no more minimum purchase requirements for the use of credit cards. Additionally, every business and service provider would be required to accept credit cards. Even if all of those fundamental changes could be made—a proposition that is very unlikely—almost every American would oppose it, because there is no getting around the fact that for many reasons cash is simply easier to use.