ATM devised for sightless customers

Bella Jaisinghani TNN

Mumbai: A group of organizations working to make the city disabled-friendly would have made Louis Braille proud on his birth anniversary Wednesday. Having devised a range of software programmes and gadgets that could be used by visually handicapped people, they unveiled the collection at a special function in Bandra, held to mark his birthday. Among them was an automatic teller machine (ATM) that blind people can use to withdraw money.

“We inaugurated an online Braille library that allows students to download files and print them to read. There is a full display of access technology like low-vision aids and teaching aids,” said Sam Taraporevala, head of sociology at the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC). The institute partnered the National Association of Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun, in this exhibition.

NCR Corporation, which manufactures ATMs, demonstrated a machine that can be used by sightless customers. “It is a regular ATM fitted with auto-guidance software,” said Nagesh Nayak, professional services practice manager of NCR. “One can use a regular headphone and plug it into the jack to receive instructions and operate the numeric keypad on the machine.” Operative buttons like ‘Enter’ and ‘Cancel’ are embossed and codified.

It would help to have Braille stickers affixed to the numeric keypad, though Nayak says that just about 10% sightless people read the script. “The raised dot on the number 5, which is a feature of most keypads, comes in handy to detect the rest of the numbers. People who go blind later in life are scarcely familiar with Braille, it is mostly the young who read it,” he said. As for security, should a sighted person catch a glimpse of the screen while a visually-challeged person is operating the machine, all he would see is a blank screen.

Unfortunately, banks have been slow to take to this technology primarily for the initial investment it would entail. “However, the Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines to say that one-third of all the new ATMs must be accessible to the blind,” says Taraporevala.

Times Of India


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