The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) touch screen EFTPOS machine has been slammed by Blind Citizens Australia for its failure to be accessible to blind people.
There are currently around 750,000 of the point of sale (POS) Albert terminals in use around Australia and unlike traditional EFTPOS machines, there is no keyboard.
Relying only on a touch screen, the customer has to be able to read the options on-screen and read prompts to know which buttons to press meaning that blind and vision impaired people cannot use the machines independently.
Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) executive officer Emma Bennison said they get complaints from members every week.
“It is a point-of-sale device, an EFTPOS device which has no buttons on it … it has a touch screen,” she said.
“So when you go to your local coffee shop, or your local restaurant, or perhaps your clothing retailer, it’s very common these days to walk up to the counter and find that you can’t enter your pin number independently if you are a blind person.”
The Albert EFTPOS machine can make pay-way transactions but only for purchases under $100, anything more must be authorised with a pin number; this creates a problem for people who can’t see the screen.
Former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes said he had come across the machines in all sorts of places and he isn’t able to use because of his blindness.
“I can use any of the old-style EFTPOS machines or any of the EFTPOS that other banks have because I can put my finger on what is like a telephone keypad and press the numbers for my pin number,” he told the ABC.
“But of course I can’t do that on a touch screen.
“Some blind people have been asked by staff when they couldn’t complete the transaction to tell the staff member the pin number — That’s a huge security concern and it’s probably also breaching their contract with their bank if they were to tell them.”
The CBA has assured the Blind Citizens Australia group that Albert was being developed to enhance its accessibility for all customers.
Ms Bennison said her advice to retailers was to contact the bank and request a device with a keypad as a replacement for Albert.
“Otherwise, they are going to be in the position of needing to provide training to staff as to how to turn on the accessibility mode, because the blind customer can’t do that independently,” she said.
“Given the high turn-over of staff in the retail sector, this will become a costly exercise for retailers. Once the staff member has turned accessibility on, it is then necessary for the blind customer to listen to a lengthy tutorial before they can enter their PIN which will inconvenience not only them, but other customers waiting to be served, which is bad for business.”
Ms Bennison went onto to say that staff shouldn’t ask customers to divulge their pin as this voids their credit card and leaves the retailer in a vulnerable position to accusations of credit card fraud.
“The only solution is for retailers to make it clear to the bank that they want to support their customers who are blind or vision impaired by providing a device with a keypad so a blind person can enter their PIN quickly, privately and independently,” she said.