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Banks must do more on access, says charity

Banks must do more on access, says charity
19th April 2012 developer

A disability charity is calling on the banking industry to do more to make its services accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

RNIB issued the call as it published a new guide offering advice to the financial industry on how to improve services for almost two million people living with sight loss in the UK.

RNIB research from 2009 found less than a third of blind and partially-sighted people could manage their finances independently, while nine in ten told a survey last year that they found it difficult or impossible to use a cash machine on their own.

The new guide, The Banking Experience, also says that more than a third of blind and partially-sighted people still do not receive their bank statements in their preferred format.

Lesley-Anne Alexander, RNIB’s chief executive, said: “Being able to manage your money is an essential component to leading an independent life.

“It is shocking that the majority of blind and partially-sighted people aren’t able to independently use ATMs [cash machines], and that a significant number still do not receive financial information in accessible formats.

“We hope this new guide will help banks to better meet the needs of their blind and partially-sighted customers.”

The new guide – due to be launched next week in the City of London – points out that clearer signage, better support from staff, and improved online services would also benefit older people and disabled people with other impairments.

It offers advice on areas such as customer service and disability awareness training; physical access within bank branches; the accessibility of over-the-counter services; online and telephone banking; and access to information.

The guide also calls for more banks to introduce talking cash machines, an issue RNIB has been campaigning on since last September.

One of the blind and partially-sighted people RNIB talked to for the guide said: “I’m desperate for ATMs [cash machines] to be made more accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

“It would make such a difference to be able to draw out money in this way without having to reply on my fiancé and would enable me to feel so much more independent.”

The guide has been endorsed by the British Bankers’ Association and Martin Lewis, founder of the website