Inaccessible payment devices leave visually impaired (VI) customers feeling ‘embarrassed’ and ‘frustrated.’
Certain stores use buttonless touchscreen card readers, which require vision to enter your PIN. Due to their low cost and the ability to display advertisements for products at the checkout, they are becoming more and more popular.
Many machines have technical solutions available, and companies that do not activate them risk legal action.
Several VI people told the BBC‘s ‘Access All Podcast’ that they have been forced to leave unpaid items behind or divulge their PIN to strangers so they can have it typed in for them. Blind accessibility specialist Angharad from Wales, told Access that she would turn down an item if asked to use one of these devices.
She mentioned that giving her pin to sales assistants, or to any person she is with “feels like an invasion of privacy that other people just don’t have to do.”
Angharad, just like many others, is an Access All podcast listener who spoke out about her experiences due to not being able to pay because of the machines’ inaccessibility.
Dave Williams, from the blindness charity RNIB, got in touch with the podcast and stated that the devices are “increasingly used by, particularly, the small-to-medium-sized businesses because they’re very widely available”.
Tech Advancements and Inclusion
While technological innovations are undoubtedly beneficial, what about the concept of inclusivity? The goal of technological advancements is to improve our lives by making them easier and more seamless.
Why should there be stagnancy in the advancements of technology for the visually impaired and the blind?
Take a pay machine, for instance, that accepts payments using the same tap technology but has a brail embedded in it. In this case, the visually impaired could enter their pins using the braille.
An additional feature could be Braille support for other written information, enabling the visually impaired community to activate an audio reading of the content.
Accessibility is a fundamental requirement, and as digital payment methods advance, card companies and terminal manufacturers should prioritize ensuring accessibility and inclusion.
Technological inclusion should be targeted towards all communities and the message here goes beyond the visually impaired community.
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