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National Federation of Blind Aligns with Bush Administration Appeal of Landmark Currency Ruling
by Randy Shaw‚ Dec. 13‚ 2006

When a federal judge recently ruled that the United States must follow the lead of 180 nations and modify its currency to accommodate the blind, the decision was applauded by sources ranging from the New York Times to The Daily Show with John Stewart. But the Bush Administration had an ace up its sleeve---a self-described advocacy group for blind persons that has repeatedly aligned itself against key civil rights measures for the blind. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) stood alone among major blind and disability rights organizations in publicly denouncing the ruling, and urged the Bush Administration to appeal. On December 12, the NFB got its wish, and even issued a press release “applauding” the Treasury Department’s appeal of the historic ruling.


As I wrote on December 1, the NFB, a controversial nonprofit with ties to Diebold voting machines, was trying to provide political cover for the Bush Administration’s potential decision to appeal a federal court ruling that would make US currency more accessible to the blind.


I received dozens of responses from blind persons and organizations to my article, and all supported the court’s decision. But the NFB has made it clear over its history that it thinks it knows the interests of blind people better than they do, and so it issued a press release condemning the landmark court victory.


Many of these responses detailed questionable practices by the NFB that go well beyond what was detailed in my article. For example, I learned that the NFB even opposes guide dogs for the blind!


Now the NFB is applauding the Bush Administration’s decision to appeal a ruling that was lavishly praised across America.


The Bush Administration has had success finding African-Americans who oppose civil rights enforcement and affirmative action, Latinos who oppose immigration reform, environmentalists who support Alaska drilling and labor staff who oppose unions.


The NFB fits perfectly in this collection, as it works hard to deny civil rights to those it claims to represent.


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