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Changes.. February 10, 2007

Posted by K in Ablility, Action, contemporary.
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Small changes are all we need to make an equal society. The article in today’s paper (Hindustan Times) about the design of the new one and to rupee coins reminded me about this yet again. It is not easy distinguishing between the new one and two rupee coins. The designers at NID forgot that the country has visually challenged adults who carry out daily transactions. How they forgot to keep that in mind while designing the coins, is a mystery. Or does the fault lie with the Government? Its easy enough playing a tennis match and washing the blame off one’s own hand, but all it would have taken was one strong individual to have reminded the short sighted designers that everybody has a right to distinguishable coins.

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1. Greg Landheim - February 11, 2007

It’s amazing, isn’t it.

Around 1979 the US government decided to create a metal dollar, since silver dollars have been out of circulation for about 25+ years. They came up with the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which was almost the same size as a quarter. Originally it was going to be 11 sided, but they ended up just putting a raised 11 sided border on the face. It was so difficult to differentiate from a quarter that nobody would use them. They were only minted for two years.

In 2000 they decided we still needed a $1 coin, and since vending machines had already been modified to take the Susan B. Anthony dollars, they came up with the Sacagawea dollar, which has an identical coin machine sinature. It’s even more similar to the quarter, lacking the 11 sided border, except they put a coating on it that gave it a gold tint. The tint wears off, and you can’t see it well in dim light anyway, so nobody wants to use them.

You would think it would not be difficult to design a coin that was not tactily identical to a quarter, but the best minds of the US Mint can’t seem to do it. I can see why they didn’t want it as big as an old silver dollar (they were about the diameter of poker chips), but if they made it halfway between the diameter of a quarter and a half-dollar it would be easy to distinguish. There aren’t all that many half-dollars in use anyway.

The only time you ever get these coins is if you use a vending machine at a US Postal Service Post Office and put in a bill that requires change greater than a dollar. If you put in a $20 bill and buy $1 worth of stuff, you’ll get 19 of these suckers back. They really want to use them.

I don’t know what happens to them. I think I end up spending them as quarters because I forget that they are dollars, and nobody at the stores notices that they aren’t quarters if you give one to them.

It sounds like your mint is as competent as ours:)

2. sporadicblogger - February 11, 2007

Heh heh,yes, strange isn’t it? People are just uniformly insensitive I guess. And it IS insensitivite to forget visually challenged people use money!

3. pr3rna - February 12, 2007

Unfortunately we in India are insensitive to all disabled people.I am impressed when in some western countries I see ramps made for people on wheel chair.It is good to know at least a main line paper like “HindustanTimes” highlighted the cause and brought it to the notice of general public, who would otherwise not pay heed to it.I hope somebody in govt observes it and rectifies it.Lot needs to be done about the physically challenged .It is very inspiring to see how selfreliant blind children become once they are given proper training.The blind school in Delhi is one place where you can see these children managing their affairs nearly as well as people with normal vision.

4. sporadicblogger - February 12, 2007

Thats true. India is so unfriendly to physically challenged people. Our buses have no system for wheel chairs(they are attempting to change that now), we have no braille signages, ramps are missing everywhere. Many toilets surprisingly, are constructed to accomodate the wheel chair in places that have no ramps. Isn’t that necessitating dependance? We finally have a ramp in our college, something the present union deserves credit for.
Even our school structures are built to exclude those who aren’t ‘normal’. On paper admission maybe possible, but the education system seldom makes adjustments to make classroom study comfortable for said ‘abnormal’ people.

5. Greg Landheim - February 13, 2007

You are right about wheelchair accessibility in the U.S. I don’t use a wheelchair, but it’s hard for me to open a lot of big doors on public buildings. These days most new buildings have buttons to push to open the doors. They are there for people in wheelchairs, but I’ve become really dependent on them.

The thing that amazes me is how many doctors’ office buildings don’t have self-opening doors. I walk up to the door and if it doesn’t automatically open I look around for the button to push. Most of them don’t have them. Some of these doors are really difficult to open. If I’m lucky, somebody else will come in or out and I can follow them through.

Stores care about handicapped access more than doctors do. Amazing. I guess the doctors think you have to see them, so you’ll figure out a way to do it.

6. sporadicblogger - February 13, 2007

I guess capitalism does have its benefits 🙂 the sellers will do anything to draw buyers. On a serious note, your comments indicate that insensitivity to the differently abled isn’t something that plagues only developing nations and also that continuous changes and thought processes are required in order to expand the mainstream.

7. glandheim - February 14, 2007

You know, I really have no idea how access for the disabled came about in the US. It was written into federal law a long time ago, and as new buildings were build, or when existing structures were improved past a certain point, they had to include special access.

Where is was a rarity to see wheel chair ramps, now it’s a rarity not to, and all of the sidewalks are built so they slope to the street at intersections instead of dropping off into a gutter.

It’s a big deal, and it’s strictly enforced, but I have absolutely no idea who got it started, or why. People griped about the added expense 20 years or so ago, but now they just do it.

Obviously someone gave it thought, but there are no leaders I can think of who take credit for it.

Strange.


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