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Money Talks, And So Should ATMS

Media Release from the Association Of Blind Citizens Of New Zealand

Monday 15 July 2002

Blind New Zealanders are asking banks to catch up to the rest of the world and install automatic teller machines that talk.

President of the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand, Vaughan Dodd, said the United States, Canada, Australia and many other countries now offer ATMs that are truly accessible.

"ATM manufacturers now offer ATMs that allow a user to plug in a pair of headphones so a blind or print impaired person can be talked through a transaction. They work well and provide a tremendous increase in independence and dignity for blind people. There's no reason why New Zealand should be the odd country out in denying universal access to essential banking services"

Responding to suggestions that there may be some sort of security risk in introducing talking ATMs, Mr Dodd said, "overseas experiences have shown no such risk. In fact, some blind people who simply have to have cash in an emergency are sometimes required to seek assistance from strangers. That is a much greater security risk than plugging in a pair of headphones so the machine can help you withdraw cash and tell you what your bank balance is."

Mr Dodd said that the Association believed that because the machines now exist, and the case overseas has been so well proven, that banks are in breech of the Human Rights Act if they do not begin to install universally accessible machines.

"We don't want to use the big stick that is the Act. We would much rather enter into dialogue to help banks understand their responsibilities under the Act, but it is an option if all else fails," Mr Dodd concluded.


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