RNIB slams Visa over ATMs for blind people

RNIB has slammed Paralympics sponsor Visa for failing to provide “talking cash machine” facilities for blind people at the Olympic Park.

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RNIB has slammed Paralympics sponsor Visa for failing to provide “talking cash machine” facilities for blind people at the Olympic Park.

The financial company Visa committed to installing upgrades to cash machines on the Olympic Park which would provide audio facilities after RNIB threatened legal action under the Equalities Act earlier this year. Legal proceedings were halted after Visa pledged to convert two of the eight on-site cashpoints into “talking ATMs”.

It is understood that Visa failed to make the upgrades. RNIB says it is “extremely disappointed” after working with Locog for the past three years to ensure that the Olympic Park was fully accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

Visa cash points on the park include braille and tactile keyboards in lie with all UK high street cashpoints.

Steve Winyard, head of policy and campaigns at RNIB, says: “RNIB has always campaigned for the right of blind and partially sighted people to have control of their own money and be able to access it just like a sighted person. This is why we launched our Make Money Talk campaign last year calling on all UK banks to provide ATMs with audio facilities for their customers with sight loss.

“We believe it is only fair and reasonable for banks to provide ‘talking ATMs’ across their networks and especially at sites where everyone else has the luxury of 24/7 access. Already Barclays and Lloyds have agreed to this and we expect two more banks to make a similar commitment in the near future.”

The charity says that if blind or partially sighted people are experiencing difficulties using the cashpoint facilities at the park, it will prove them with assistance.

There are currently 69 “talking ATMs” in the UK, while there are 100,000 in the US – the equivalent of one in four.

Visa says it was “not feasible” to add audio functionalilty to the cash points in the short timeframe after RNIB raised the issue in June.

A spokesperson for Visa Europe says: “Visa has been a global sponsor for over 25 years and takes seriously the responsibility to provide robust, safe and secure ATM provision for all visitors to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Visa is committed to addressing the needs of blind and partially sighted people in using ATMs in the UK and will work with our member banks and RNIB going forward to improve accessibility.”

Visa has previously angered consumers over its monopoly on card payment and cash machine services at the Olympics that meant only Visa cardholders could purchase tickets and only its cards can be used to make purchases at Olympic venues.

Updated 12:40

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