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Talking ATM Issues
The article posted here about NCR’s Talking ATMs in India first appeared in the Hindu Business Line. The Law Office of Lainey Feingold, and Linda Dardarian, first engaged with NCR in the mid-1990’s as the Talking ATM initiative was getting underway in the United States. This story about NCR’s Talking (and solar-powered!) ATMs demonstrates yet again that accessibility is an international issue. Accessible technology that starts in one country is bound to make its way around the world. The technology corporations are global, advocacy needs to be too. Blind advocates are not mentioned in the story below, but no doubt they played an important role in efforts to bring independent access to financial services to India.
The June 6, 2012 Google Alert for Talking ATMs included a news report, posted below, of the “first” Talking ATM in India. It was not the first time the Indian press covered accessible ATMs though. In September 2011 the Hindu Business Times reported on the experience of using a Talking ATM for the first time, but on closer read last Fall’s story may just have been describing temporary installations. Whether or not Union Bank of India has installed the first or second Talking ATM, congratulations go out to advocates in the Indian blind community and that country’s banking industry for recognizing the importance of accessible technology.
On March 15, 2012, federal regulations with detailed Talking ATM requirements will finally be mandatory. The Talking ATM standards come at the end of a long (and continuing) road of grass-roots and legal advocacy in the U.S. and around the globe. March 15, 2012 is more than twelve years after the first Talking ATM was installed in the United States. Tens of thousands of ATMs now talk, but still too many do not.
For many years the Law Office of Lainey Feingold has been keeping track of Talking ATM installations in countries all over the world. On September 10, 2011, Google’s “Talking ATM” alert brought news of installations in Mumbai India. United States ATM manufacturers NCR and Diebold are featured in the article.
Posted here is a news report from the Philippines about a legislative push for Talking ATMs in that country. Reading this news on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is fitting.
Although the law being celebrated this month is focused on “Americans”, disability advocacy in one part of the globe often has ripple affects across the world. Today we have a global economy and multi-national corporations. We also have global advocacy and international advances in disability access. Especially when it comes to accessible technology.
In August of this year, blind advocates in Pakistan demanded an end to widespread discrimination against blind people by the banking industry in that country. Their advocacy has paid off. In early December 2009, the Islamabad-based International News and The Nation published articles, posted here, with the headlines “Banks directed to permit blind people to open accounts” and “Ministry to install ATMs for visually impaired.” The articles report that all banks in Pakistan will now be required to allow blind citizens to open their own bank accounts and will issue information in Braille to facilitate banking independence. And, for the first time, Talking ATMs are being planned for installation in Islamabad. Efforts to end discrimination in Pakistan against people with disabilities in insurance and micro-lending are also underway.