Ever-evolving ATM technology is making it easier for credit unions to offer services to the visually impaired through talking features. Audio technology allows members with reading difficulties to understand transaction options, an ability that could even encourage some members who do not have an account to connect with a financial institution.
Recently, Barclays in the UK installed talking features on about 75% of its machines that allows users to plug in their headphones to hear the options. The move was part of a broader effort in the region called the Make Money Talk Campaign that encourages more institutions to install the options.
In the United States, credit unions have been adding features to meet requirements set by the American Disabilities Act, which took effect in March. Firefighters Credit Union in Ohio invested more than $67,000 in new technology to replace or update its four ATMs, CEO Ben Laurendeau told Cleveland Business.
Numerica Credit Union in Spokane, WA, has updated seven of its 17 ATMs so far, Kelli Hawkins, communications manager, told CreditUnions.com earlier this year. The credit union’s ATMS were equipped with Braille, but now they’ll have the required speech output with plug-in headsets that let customers listen to instructions during transactions.
“It will tell you which button to push and the location of button if you are requesting a cash withdrawal,” says Hawkins. “Because they are listening to the commands, it does not show on the screen.”
Roughly 21.5% adults in the United States have visual impairments, including those who have trouble seeing even with contacts or glasses or who are legally blind, according to a 2010 National Health Interview Survey. ATMs now must have displays that will benefit the sight and hearing impaired, but Hawkins says the upgrades will benefit all members, not just those with disabilities.
Newer ATMs now do not require envelopes for cash deposits, have check imaging, better monitors, and easier-to-understand receipts. Check imaging benefits members with more rapid check processing and reduces cost for the credit union. “This will help us provide better member service,” Hawkins says.