How are you today?
It has been suggested to me that I write a post in a less creative manner so that I prove I can write for business. I don’t mind doing that, it’s just like writing html, as long as I don’t have to change my title. DISCLAIMER – I DONT FIND THIS AN INTERESTING POST. ITS MEH. READ AT YOUR OWN DANGER.
I conclude that our monetary system has built-in prejudice against people with conditions and disabilities. Money could be constructed to be easily distinguishable by all people. Currently, it is roughly the same size, color, & texture, and the values can be difficult for some people to recognize. Why isn’t their braille or some other differentiation on our currency for the visually impaired? Do not suggest to me that it is because it would be too expensive.
Without a differentiator on currency, the seeing-impaired have to create systems for negotiating transactions, and to a certain degree, they will always be at the mercy of their retailer, ATM/banker, and devices (such as a CCTV or iPhone). A great source for reading about systems to negotiate transactions efficiently and confidently is the site, visionaware.org. But, what I mean about “at the mercy of” is this. A visually-impaired person may make a mistake, as might a retailer, and as might a banker. An ATM or a device may fail at a critical moment. There is also the possibility of dishonesty, which is not making a simple mistake, but deceit. And with our current currency, the visually-impaired individual is less likely to be able to control the outcome of a monetary transaction than the person who can see 20/20 because they have less ability to determine the value.
For example, this morning at Safeway, I watched for five minutes roughly, as a blind man pulled bills from his wallet to pay for his groceries. No big deal; it’s just five minutes. However it took me thirty seconds to complete my transaction. A difference of four and a half minutes. And, when you multiply this number (4.5), by the average number of grocery store trips per week per household in 2012 (2.2), and multiply that by the number of weeks in a year (52), and multiply that by the number of years in an average life lifespan for a visually impaired individual after subtracting eighteen years of life as a dependent, which makes the equation slightly more accurate (very roughly 44) — the math on this is difficult once you factor in gender, level of sight, at what age the person becomes impaired, the unknowns of this individual’s medical history, and the impact of if he intentionally changes his purchasing behavior due to his disability — the total time spent just purchasing groceries in his life is 2,288 minutes more than mine. That’s 38 hours. So the guy I watched loses a day and a half of his life in comparison to me. But that’s not where the math gives us insight. That’s really not that much time lost. But let me string out some implications of this loss of a day and a half.
He loses a day and a half. The aggregate person or people standing behind him lose a day and a half. And further, there are roughly thirty-nine million blind people worldwide. So if we are really taking 1.5 days, and multiplying that by 39,000,000 then the days lost become significant for blind people as a whole. If we think about the people standing in line behind blind people, then the number grows even more significant in terms of productivity lost. And finally, if we think about the fact that the grocery store is not the only place that blind people have to engage in monetary transactions, then we can see how this issue relates on a large scale and a personal scale for both visually impaired and sighted people.
Perhaps, I’m overstating the case. I’ve done that before. For example, perhaps a large number of people in the blind community don’t engage in cash transactions, or are facilitated in some other way. Perhaps, five minutes is too long of an average check-out time. I’m not so concerned about the details of the math in this instance because this is a matter of ethics, not math. Math is just illustrative for some people.
Simply put, the world would be a little fairer, if visually impaired people could spend money with the same ease as sighted individuals. There’s no reason we need to make things more difficult for anyone. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll understand why I care personally.
Further, the solution already exists. Cash has a lifespan before it disintegrates, and is replaced. Ask any economist. Or ask yourself. Have you ever ripped a dollar bill on accident? When cash fails, what we do is print new money or stamp new coins. When we do, we often change the design or construction of our currency for cosmetic, and utilitarian reasons (such as increased durability). It seems to me we have ways to change our currency to have greater utility for the visually impaired. Heck, we could probably even make money talk.