There is currently a large campaign running in the UK to make all cashpoint (ATM) machines accessible for blind people to use on their own, without help. Most of our banks here do not currently have these facilities and The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), our biggest national charity for this group of people, has launched a campaign called “Make Money Talk”, to persuade the banks to rectify this situation. We seem to be lagging behind other countries in making use of this excellent innovation for the disabled. ATMs across Britain are still unusable to over half a million blind and partially sighted citizens. Naturally they need to access their cash but they cannot see the touch screens, so have to rely on someone else to help them.
These talking ATMs (automated teller machine) give voice instructions so that someone who cannot read the screen can independently use the machine. All the audible information is given privately either through headphones or a separate telephone handset. The information is transmitted either through speech synthesis or pre-recorded sound files. The user can hear instructions such as “press 1 for withdrawal”, “press 2 for deposit.” The audible information also describes the location of features such as the deposit slot, number keypad and card slot. These facilities are also very helpful to those suffering from dyslexia and anyone who finds it easier to listen to information than to read it.
The world’s first talking ATM was opened in Canada in 1997 at the Royal Bank of Canada in Ottawa. It came about as a result of concerns that a blind couple, customers of the bank, raised with the bank in 1984. This then turned into a discrimination complaint taken up with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1991, and resulted in the bank having the talking machine manufactured by NCR and installed at a cost of $500, 000 Canadian dollars. Since then many other countries, including Australia, the US, India, Turkey and the Philippines, have also started providing these machines, but so far in the UK only one bank, Barclays, has installed them on any scale.
Barclays recently made history by becoming the first to introduce these facilities for its visually impaired customers at a launch event in London. Following this 80% of their machines across the country are now offering this service. Now the campaign is targetting all the other major banks in the hope that they will follow suit. Anything that makes life that bit easier for a blind person, or anyone with disabilities is something that gets my full support, so I am completely backing this campaign (I have recently signed a petition to the heads of the banks to ask them to install these machines as soon as possible).
Hope you got something from reading this blog, and your votes and comment are much appreciated.
Picture courtesy of www.trace.wisc.edu