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Statement on access to ATM for visually impaired

The HFHR addressed a statement to the President of the Polish Bank Association, asking if the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and payment terminals used by bank customers in Poland meet the needs of visually impaired persons.

In April 2013 the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued an opinion which stated that the failure to adopt measures for visually impaired customers using banking services constituted a violation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee heard a case brought by customers of a Hungarian bank. The complainants, paid users of the bank’s ATM cards, were unable to withdraw money from ATMs on their own because the devices were inaccessible for visually impaired customers. The ATMs were neither fitted with Braille fonts nor provided voice assistance for users.

Although Poland, upon ratifying the Convention in 2012, did not recognise the Committee’s jurisdiction in cases related to violations of the Convention, an opinion of the Committee sets a standard for the protection of visually impaired persons’ rights that should be observed by all Convention’s State-Parties.

“According to the Committee, a state which has ratified the Convention is obliged to adopt a minimum standard of accessibility to banking services, including those provided with the use of ATMs, for visually impaired persons”, says Dr. Dorota Pudzianowska, a legal expert of the HFHR.

“In the context of banking services it is especially important that full access to services of financial institutions must be ensured not only for persons with physical impairments but also, and crucially, for persons with different disabilities, including visually impaired persons”, the statement reads.

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