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More ATMs for visually impaired persons following HFHR intervention

ING Bank Śląski has been gradually rolling out speech-enabled ATMs. The action is an effect of the HFHR’s intervention which underscored the need for adjusting cash machines to the needs of visually impaired persons.

Let us remind our readers that the HFHR has intervened after having been approached by a client of ING Bank Śląski who was unable to fully use a payment card received from the bank because none of ING ATMs in his town was adjusted to the needs of persons with a visual disability. By that time, the Helsinki Foundation had already contacted ING Bank Śląski and the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, and also had informed the Chair of the Polish Bank Association about visually impaired persons’ problems with accessing banking services.

In 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued an opinion which stated that a failure to ensure ATMs accessible by visually impaired customers constituted a violation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In the Committee’s assessment, ATMs must be adjusted so that such persons can independently use the services of financial institutions.

At the end of 2015, ING Bank operated 56 speech-enabled ATMs, while in July of 2016, a client of the HFHR learned that 125 such cash machines were in services across Poland.  Importantly, speech-enabled ATMs were also installed in Białystok, the hometown of the client.

“We are happy to hear that ING Bank has constructively responded to ATMs accessibility issues that we reported and took measures to adjust its machines to the needs of persons with disabilities”, says Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, the Foundation’s legal expert. “The adjustments that are currently introduced are an important step forward, but they do not solve all the problems faced by visually impaired persons as not all ATMs have speech facilities that replace all the functionalities accessible only by persons with good sight. This is because we will keep pushing for introduction of additional adjustments”, adds Jarosław Jagura, a member of the HFHR’s legal team.

The case has been conducted as part of HFHR’s “Article 32” anti-discrimination programme.

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