Blind World Magazine

Saudi Arabia.
Banks Prepare to Introduce ATMs for Blind.

October 07, 2005.

Saudi banks are making preparations to introduce new ATMs for the use of the blind as well as people with poor vision, a banking official said.

The official, who requested anonymity, said his bank was in the process of signing a contract with an international company to supply ATMs which can be used by visually impaired people.

"We are also studying prospects of upgrading present ATMs providing them with audio features that convert text into speech, making them easier for those with visual handicaps to use," he said.

The banks decided to introduce the new system to meet the needs of a large number of blind and illiterate people in the Saudi society.

The official said the blind and illiterate were calling for special ATMs for their use, adding that new ATMs will be made available at shopping centers, hospitals and airports.

The new move comes after many visually handicapped clients had complained about existing banking services. They alleged that most banks wanted to avoid dealing with them.

A bank employee in Riyadh told Arab News banks often avoid opening accounts for the blind or issuing ATM cards or checkbooks for them, fearing that they would not be able to handle their accounts or cards safely.

However, he pointed out his bank opened accounts for visually impaired university graduates when they insisted. "In such cases we ask them to bring along a relative who can read and explain to them bank regulations and enter the secret number in the ATM on behalf of their blind relative," he said.

"We take all information related to the relative, his signature and ID number for reference. We also mention in our computer records that the holder of the account is a blind person," he explained.

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