Barclays first major bank to roll out audio ATMs

The first major bank to sign up to the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) Make Money Talk campaign has fulfilled its commitment and now more than 75 per cent of its ATMs “talk”.

Blind and partially sighted people can now take along their earphones and plug them into one of more than 3,000 Barclays speech enabled ATMs, and access their money.

To use the new technology customers need to plug in a set of earphones to the audio jack and listen to the options that will be read out.

People will be given several choices and asked to press the appropriate option on the key pad. For instance, a customer maybe asked to press ‘one’ to select cash withdrawal and ‘two’ to select balance enquiry. On each key pad the ‘five’ has a raised dot which enables people with sight loss to navigate the key pad.

When the campaign launched last year research found that the majority of blind or partially sighted people who wanted to access their own money needed to ask a friend or relative for help using the ATM or go into their branch during working hours. Some people even rely on the help of a passer-by, which could breach their privacy and put them in a potentially dangerous situation.

There are almost two million people living with sight loss in the UK and this is set to increase dramatically. It is predicted that by 2050 the number of people with sight loss in the UK will double to nearly four million.

RNIB believes it is only fair and reasonable that banks in the UK provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers, across their ATM networks and especially at sites where everyone else has the luxury of 24/7 access.

Rosemary Thorndycraft, 65, from Middlesex, had teenage glaucoma and her vision has deteriorated overtime. She now has limited sight and is registered blind.

“Up until now I wasn’t able to use ATMs on my own as I couldn’t read the screen. I had to rely on a family member or a friend to help me or get cash back which restricts the amount I can take out. I’m thrilled that blind and partially sighted people are now going to be able to access ATMs independently. It’s definitely going to improve my quality of life and make me more independent,” said Rosemary.

Fazilet Hadi, RNIB’s Group Director of Inclusive Society, said: “We are delighted Barclays has kept its promise and rolled out speech enabled ATMs, benefiting thousands of people with sight loss. We believe banks in the UK should provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers, across their ATM networks, and now call for other banks to follow Barclays example.”

Bob Bond, UK Chief Distribution Officer at Barclays, said: “This enhancement to our ATMs provides greater access and choice. We hope the increased independence and privacy it offers will enable a new group of people to access ATMs and undertake an essential activity that so many of us take for granted.”

There are several options available to bank customers who have difficulty accessing their own money. Some people prefer to have one card to use at ATMs and a second card to sign for things in shops. Or some customers may choose to have one card which does both functions. To find out more about all the different options available either call your bank direct or visit payyourway.org.uk, The Payments Council’s consumer education campaign for simple, practical advice on different payment options, including chip and signature.Non-Barclays customers can still use the Barclays speech enabled ATMs, located at its branches across England and Wales, including at selected Asda supermarkets. To find out the location of your nearest machine visit http://ask.barclays.co.uk/branchfinder/

Alternatively request a leaflet in an alternative format on 020 3217 8259 or press@paymentscouncil.org.uk.

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