Banks encouraged to keep services accessible for people with blindness and low vision

Carol Bellwood is happy about the introduction of tactile banknotes, but says there are some things that can be done to make banking technology more accessible to people with low vision.
Carol Bellwood is happy about the introduction of tactile banknotes, but says there are some things that can be done to make banking technology more accessible to people with low vision.

The introduction of a new tactile $10 note has been welcomed by people with low vision, but they say the banking sector needs to keep in mind other ways to keep services accessible.

Vision Australia’s general manager of advocacy and engagement, Karen Knight, said tactile currency had given people with a vision impairment more confidence and security when using cash, as they were able to more easily identify notes.

But she said the use of such technology as touchscreens posed a challenge for people with low vision and blindness.

“While cash still plays a major role in day-to-day transactions, electronic payment methods are increasingly becoming the norm,” Ms Knight said.

“It’s vital that any further advances in technology in this area have accessibility at the forefront.”

Bendigo resident Carol Bellwood has low vision and has found the ease of use of ATMs varies.

She said one problem she had encountered was difficulty in seeing the screen in direct sunlight.

Mrs Bellwood said the instructions on screens, such as those on EFTPOS terminals, was often hard to see because of the size of the text.

She would like to see this enlarged, to make it easier to read.

A spokesperson from the Australian Bankers’ Association said the industry was working with disability sector representatives to “develop new accessibility standards for banks which address emerging technologies in banking, such as touchscreen”.

But Mrs Bellwood said the introduction of tactile features on banknotes was “terrific”.

Now both the $5 and $10 notes have tactile features, as well as new security features.

The new $50 banknote is expected to enter circulation in late 2018, while remaining denominations will be introduced in subsequent years.