UK: Audio technology for 3,000 Barclays cash machines

More than three quarters of Barclays cash machines across England and Wales have had audio technology installed so they can “talk” to customers who have difficulty reading screens, the bank said today.

Blind and partially sighted people can listen to speech output on more than 3,000 of the ATMs by plugging in their earphones to listen to the options being read out.

Barclays said it is the first major high street bank to provide the facility on such a mass scale up and down the country, which will also help people with dyslexia and anyone who finds it easier to listen to information rather than reading it.

The facility is open to anyone who would normally be able to use the cash machines, so not just Barclays customers, and a spokesman for the bank said the technology will work with most standard earphones.

A report for the Payments Council found last month that elderly and disabled people are resorting to sharing their card details and pin numbers with friends, relatives and neighbours because payment facilities across the industry are not meeting their needs.

The report said big hurdles to people getting hold of their money included the inaccessible nature of some bank branches and ATMs which were not designed in a standard way, as well as “small and fiddly” buttons on cash machines and hard-to-read screens.

Around 370,000 people are registered blind or partially sighted people in the UK. Charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) estimates that 10% of these people do not have bank accounts and around 11% are using ATMs without the need for extra help from someone else.

Most Read

Of the remainder, almost half (45%) said they would use ATMs if they were more accessible by making them speech enabled.

A Make Money Talk campaign was launched by the RNIB last September, calling for banks in the UK to provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers.

Fazilet Hadi, RNIB’s group director of inclusive society, said: “We are delighted that Barclays has fulfilled its commitment to our Make Money Talk campaign and become the first major bank to roll out speech enabled ATMs.

“We believe banks in the UK should provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers, across their ATM networks.”

Barclays said that the locations of the “talking” cash machines can be found on its website.