The accessibility issue more people with disabilities should think about

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
5 min readFeb 24, 2019
Graphical representation of Blockchain identifying 5 uses: smart contract, digital voting, data storage, mining, and digital identity

Accessible Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

The problem people with disabilities have with currency is as old as currency itself. People with disabilities live in a world where:

  • Coins are heavy, easy to drop, and hard to pick up. In the US the largest coin in regular circulation is a quarter, which doesn’t buy much these days.
  • Old paper bills frequently contain germs, which can impact people with compromised immune systems
  • New paper bills can be difficult to separate for people who lack fine motor skills.
  • Many countries have similar sizes and colors in their paper money, making it impossible for a person with significant vision loss to identify the correct bills to make a purchase without some sort of assistance. Even people with partial sight may have trouble distinguishing a $1 bill from a $10, especially if the bill is old or worn.

Unscrupulous people take advantage of people with vision loss courtesy of some of the physical currency deficiencies identified above. A lawsuit is currently pending against Walmart where because the self-checkout kiosks were inaccessible, the blind plaintiffs were forced to use a staffed checkout where it is alleged that the cashier stole money from the customers. I use the word alleged loosely, because the cashier was fired which is I think all you need to know for that story.

Cryptocurrency has numerous benefits over physical currency for all parties involved. For the payer and payee, there is instant settlement, less fraud, less reliance on centralized banks, and improved availability in remote areas where physical banks storing physical currency may not exist in convenient locations. For the government, there is less cost and hassle associated with producing, transporting, and securing physical currency.

If money were tracked in an entirely digital manner, compliance on tax reporting would improve, because it would be much harder to earn undeclared income or claim deductions that never existed. Academics at respected universities are suggesting the US would benefit from transitioning to a national digital currency. However, if digital wallets (the software holding…

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.