Barclays has today announced it will join Royal National Institute of Blind People's (RNIB) campaign by committing to roll out 'talking ATMs' towards the end of 2012. The Make Money Talk campaign aims to make ATMs more accessible to the nearly 400,000* registered blind and partially sighted people in the UK through audio facilities.
Speech output will be deployed on Barclays ATMs through audio jacks so that blind and partially sighted people will be able to plug in their earphones to listen to the options being read out to enable them to carry out their transactions. Currently if a blind or partially sighted person wants to access their own money they need to ask a friend or relative for help or in some cases a passer-by.
"Our announcement today will mean that blind and partially sighted people will have greater access and choice when using ATMs providing increased independence and privacy. We will be speech enabling our cash machines towards the end of next year and see this as an important part of our financial inclusion commitments." comments Bob Bond, chief UK distribution officer at Barclays.
Barclays customer Rosemary Thorndycraft, from Middlesex, had teenage glaucoma and her vision has deteriorated ever since. She now has limited sight.
"Basically I cannot use ATMs at the moment as I'm unable to read the screen. At the moment I have to sign for things using my card or get cash back from shops but you can't always do that. I could queue at my branch but that's only open during working hours.
"Today's news means I'll be able to access my money whenever and where ever I want which is fantastic. It's going to make me much more independent and flexible with the way I get my cash. It's going to make me the same as everyone else." said Rosemary.
Lesley-Anne Alexander, RNIB's chief executive, said: "We are delighted that Barclays has become the first major high street bank to join our Make Money Talk campaign. 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."
Make Money Talk was launched in September calling for banks in the UK to provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers.