Commonwealth Bank disrupting EFTPOS usage for the blind and vision-impaired

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Tuesday, 1 August 2017 09:36am

The Commonwealth Bank is continuing to roll out their EFTPOS tablet despite repeated concerns voiced over the past 18 months that this payment solution is inaccessible to people who are blind, vision-impaired or have other disabilities that make touchscreen-only use unworkable for them.

Woman tries to use touchscreen on Albert tablet

Woman tries to use touchscreen on Albert tablet

The ‘Albert’ machine at the heart of this controversy is a 7” Android touchscreen tablet, launched in March 2015 and described as “an innovative new EFTPOS tablet [to] disrupt the payments space”. Unfortunately, it has ended up disrupting the banking of blind and vision-impaired users as well.

According to the tablet’s user guide, Albert has accessibility features that include text-to-speech and a “virtual cursor” that uses swipes to input PIN details. Yet customers will get only three chances to enter their PIN correctly before their account is locked, and disability advocates say the touchscreen-only terminal is difficult to be accessed by the blind or vision-impaired.

Graeme Innes, the former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, contacted the bank with his concerns 18 months ago. “We asked them to stop the roll-out and modify the machine by adding a keypad,” he said. “They have talked to us a lot about the problem, but taken very little action to do anything about it.”

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) said recently that the touchscreen-only EFTPOS tablet was preventing blind and low-vision users from using the machine, or forcing them to tell retail staff their PIN number.

BCA’s Executive Officer, Emma Bennison, and Graeme Innes, have called on the bank to stop the roll-out until the terminal can be made accessible and inclusive for all. “Our members are finding that each week many more shops and restaurants in their local communities are no longer accessible to them,” said Ms Bennison.

“People who are blind are being asked to divulge their PIN number to a retail staff member to make a payment and this is totally unacceptable,” added Ms Bennison. “I cannot complete transactions which other Australians make 10 or 20 times a day.”

“There is an accessibility mode to turn on to make it apparently accessible, except you still have to listen to a 10-minute tutorial so it really isn’t possible to make it accessible, particularly in a noisy environment,” she said.

“People have told us that they had no other choice but to divulge their PIN because they can’t hear the tutorial, the staff member doesn’t know how to turn the accessibility on, or they don’t have time to stand around for 10 minutes.”

A Commonwealth Bank spokeswoman said in a news release that the bank was “working with the blind and visually-impaired community to enhance our solutions.”


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