There are many conditions that could affect a person’s vision and cause them to experience sight loss. Sight loss does not necessarily imply a person is completely blind. More than 80% of people diagnosed with visual impairment still have vision that allows them to carry out most of their everyday duties uninhibited.
For the 20 percent of blind and partially sighted persons whose ability to perform the tasks without assistance is severely constrained, it’s vital that government and businesses make it easier for such persons to live a normal life. Perhaps most important is the need to ensure the blind and partially sighted remain independent and can manage their own finances.
A growing number of US banks are offering services that make banking quicker, easier and more accessible for the visually impaired. The following are some of the best features for accessible banking currently available in the market.
1. Phone and Tablet Banking
Looking at the iPhone 7 and the cost of other leading brands, it’s apparent that smartphones are within financial reach of the average person. The banking industry has noticed which is why many routine banking tasks can now be done via your tablet or smartphone. These include checking your account balance, paying bills, transferring money, setting up low balance alerts and weekly mini statements.
The user interface of most banking apps is purposely designed in a way that’s compatible with a screen reader. In particular, the Bank of America app is quite impressive. It has been hailed for its features and accessibility including the biometric login. Some bank apps also allow you to use your phone to make payments on a contactless card machine.
2. Talking ATMs
Talking cash machines have an earphones slot through which a blind customer can listen to the screen prompts as opposed to reading them. To initiate an accessible banking session, all you need to do is plug in standard 3.5mm headphones. Most major banks including Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America now install speech-enabled ATMs exclusively.
Since talking ATMs are not available everywhere, you can check whether there’s one near where you are by calling your bank’s customer service or visiting the bank’s website or using its mobile app.
3. Check Writing Tools
Several banks provide tools that assist the visually impaired when writing checks. For example, raised-line checks have bolder larger print, raised lines and are larger than ordinary checks. Banks will charge you at the same price as a standard check. Large print checks may be ordered through the customer service representative of your bank.
Printed by the Deluxe Corporation, you must get the routing transit number directly from your credit union or bank before placing an order. Other check accessibility tools that banks provider include checkbook templates, signature stamps for faster and simpler document signing, and a signature guide. Overall, the tools will vary from bank to bank so it’s best to call first in order to establish what accessibility aids are available.
4. Staff Training
Despite modern banking becoming increasingly automated, human interaction is still at the core of providing high quality customer service. More banks are recognizing the need to train their employees so they can better understand and serve persons with sight loss.
Not all visually impaired persons will have a guide dog, wear glasses or carry a white cane. Employees should be intuitive and on the lookout for a customer who seems to be struggling with filling a form or reading instructions. Staff must know the right questions to ask and avoid making presumptions.
Taking steps to make banking more accessible has made a huge difference for the visually impaired and other persons with disability. Businesses across all industries can learn valuable lessons from the banking industry. After all, since millions of people have some disability, it makes business sense to cater to this huge market.