The ability to access your cash whenever you want is something most of us take for granted. But what if you couldn’t see the ATMs on-screen instructions? The RNIB is here to talk talking cash machines.
Yes, you can make withdrawals over the branch counter, but what if it’s outside of banking hours? What if your bank is not within easy distance? And besides, just because you can’t see the ATM screen clearly, why should you have to live in the 1970s when the rest of us are enjoying modern convenience?
A solution is to introduce talking cash machines.
The UK’s behind with talking ATMs
Don’t be alarmed. Talking cash machines don’t blurt out the innermost secrets of your current account for all to hear. You don’t even have to answer it back. All you do is plug in your standard mobile or MP3 player headphones and follow the spoken instruction using the keypad to navigate through the options. What could be simpler?
In September 2011, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) launched our Make Money Talk campaign to encourage banks to install talking ATMs.
At that date the UK had around 64,000 cash machines, but only 69 talking ones. Compare that to the likes of the USA, with over 100,000 talking cash machines (or around one in three). In fact, the UK was way behind countries such as Australia, Canada, India and Turkey.
Banks start listening to calls for talking ATMs
Northern Bank was the first UK bank to introduce a talking ATM way back in 2005, and by September 2011 they had 57 of the UK’s 69 talking machines.
We were delighted when Barclays became the first of the so-called big five to roll out talking ATMs, when in November 2012 it switched on audio facilities in over 80% of its machines. The more alert amongst you will have noticed that the Co-operative Bank has now also begun to introduce them, and the likes of RBS, Lloyds and Nationwide have all announced that they will soon be following suit.
At RNIB we hear too many stories of people asking passing strangers to help them find and remove their cash. To limit the amount of times they visit their branch, many blind and partially sighted people have been withdrawing large sums and walking around with wads of notes about their person. By denying blind and partially-sighted people a simple convenience, like the ability to use an ATM, we force them to take these huge risks with their personal security.
So next time you speak to your bank or building society, please ask them when they will be introducing talking ATMs. Let’s put an end to this particular form of inequality.
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is by Steve Webb from the Royal National Institute of Blind People. All opinions expressed here are Steve’s own, not necessarily those of Which?