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Touchscreen options are increasingly fashionable and it seems now likely to be imposed at point of sale.

I’ve recently spoken with Nikki Fix at the BBC Access All podcast about the issues with this for people with sight loss or prosthetic limbs. 

Chip and pin machines allow people with sight loss to navigate the pin point around the ‘pip’ raised section on the number 5 so that they can enter their Pin whilst retaining their security. Sometimes Chip and Sign is a better option. But the issue with touchscreen is obviously that there are no ‘pips’ or means to understand what’s on screen.

By moving all payment options to a one size fits all solution, there are inevitably going to be people with different impairments that are disadvantaged by the process. If you have sight loss, how do you know where the payment options are? 

According to RNIB by 2050 500 people a day will be starting to lose their sight meaning that coming up with accessible solutions now is good for future proofing business.

Talking software would be helpful, but not when it comes to giving out PIN numbers in a public setting without a safe space. It would not be appropriate to give someone else a bank card or a PIN number. cash options are not always the solution either as most ATM’s are still not at an accessible height and many do not offer a talking service. In any event, to find out that there’s a cash requirement at point of sale is unhelpful and if that’s a policy which is essentially applied to disabled customers only it’s likely to be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

As a business, if you’re forced into accepting an inflexible payment mechanism by the Bank then there may be something you can and should do about that. Service providers have a duty to consider the access needs for disabled customers. It does not matter whether you have existing customers who may be disadvantaged, just that you might expect some customers will be. In those circumstances you must have alternative means in place to provide your service, including payments. The sanctions for failing to do so will be very expensive. Compensation can be awarded and a Court Order can be obtained requiring you to make reasonable adjustments to policies and practices to avoid the detriments.

If you’re affected by any of these issues either as a business or as a consumer please contact us for help.

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