Using a cash machine is something most of us take for granted. But if you’re blind, using a cashpoint isn’t such a simple task. However, there is a solution to make it easier and it’s time UK banks did something about it.
Cash machines provide an extremely important service that, unfortunately, simply isn’t available to blind and visually-impaired people in Britain. In America there are over 100,000 ‘talking cash machines’ – why shouldn’t this be the case in the UK?
It may surprise you to learn that many of the cash machines you use on a daily basis do actually have the capability to be used by blind and visually-impaired people.
You’ll probably have noticed, especially on newer cashpoints, that there’s a socket to plug headphones into. Amazingly, more often than not, these sockets haven’t been enabled for use!
In fact, only 0.001% of UK cashpoints have enabled this headphone capability, compared to 25% in the US and basically all ATMs in Australia.
Enable headphone sockets on cash machines
Once banks do enable this headphone facility, people who are blind or partially sighted will be able to plug in their earphones and hear what’s displayed on-screen and use the number pad to make selections.
I could attempt to explain why I think implementing this is important, but I’ll leave that job to someone far more qualified than me. Suzie Simons went blind nearly seven years ago and has taken up the reigns of this campaign to make Britain’s cash machines talk:
Getting all banks on board
Barclays and Lloyds have agreed to start bringing in this technology before the end of 2012, but this means there are still many other big banks whose cash machines remain off limits to Suzie and thousands of people like her.
RBS, HSBC, Santander and The Co-operative Bank are still refusing to provide this service and it’s time to apply a little bit of pressure to help them on their way.
I find it very difficult to understand why some the UK’s banks are so behind the times on this issue. Why are they dragging their feet on this? At best, it’s perplexing. At worst, it’s simply outrageous. It’s time to equip these systems and give people like Suzie the service she needs.