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Talking ATM Issues
Szilvia Nyusti and Péter Takács are blind advocates in Hungary who wanted their bank (the largest bank in their country) to install Talking ATMs. After all, they paid the same fees as sighted customers, why shouldn’t they have the same access to services and technology? After a five year legal battle in Hungary, they took their claims to the United Nations. On May 16, 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued an historic ruling finding that Hungary violated the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) by failing to ensure that Hungarian banks had Talking ATMs. Congratulations to Szilvia and Peter. Congratulations to the United Nations. Congratulations to the CRPD for working as it should in protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Shame on the United States for failing to ratify the treaty.
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.