80% of the 4,800 RBS and NatWest branded ATMs and in-branch Cash and Deposit machines will be speech enabled, with delivery completing by the end of 2015. This means that blind and partially sighted people are able to plug in their earphones to be verbally guided through their transactions.
RBS and NatWest invited the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to discuss the issue of making ATMs accessible for blind and partially sighted customers, as part of stakeholder engagement sessions with the RBS Group Sustainability Committee. These sessions bring senior executives and Board Members together with some of the bank’s fiercest critics including Which? Oxfam, the Tax Justice Network, the British Chambers of Commerce, WWF and BankTrack.
RBS and NatWest have been working closely with RNIB on talking ATMs for over a year. And as a result of the RNIB’s attendance at the engagement session, we have invited them to advise on ATM usability as RBS and NatWest make changes to the ATM network over the next few years. The move has also fulfilled the banks’ commitment to the RNIB’s Make Money Talk campaign.
Ross McEwan, RBS and NatWest Retail Banking CEO said:
“As one of the largest ATM providers in the UK, we want to help our customers bank with us in the simplest and most convenient way possible. We know from our discussions with RNIB how important talking ATMs are in improving accessibility and independence for our blind and partially sighted customers. I'm delighted that this enhancement will provide customers with greater access and choice.”
Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE, RNIB's Chief Executive Officer, said:
"We are delighted that RBS and NatWest have joined our Make Money Talk campaign and are set to make just over 3,800 of its ATMs speech enabled, benefiting thousands of people with sight loss. We believe banks in the UK should provide ATMs with audio facilities for their blind and partially sighted customers, across their ATM networks, and now call for other banks to follow RBS and NatWest's example."
As well as helping blind and partially sighted consumers, the functionality will also benefit people with a range of disabilities including dyslexia, and other age-related impairments, as well as anyone who simply prefers to take information on board aurally rather than by reading.
RBS and NatWest have already taken steps to make sure branches are accessible to customers, including enhancing the service to hearing impaired customers by providing at least one portable hearing loop in every branch. There are now more than 190 new counters accessible to wheelchair users.
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