Santander has launched talking ATMs at every one of its UK branches, including Merchant Street in Bristol Shopping Quarter.
Partially sighted and blind customers will have access to talking ATMs around the clock
Santander has become the first bank in the UK to launch talking ATMs in all of its branches. Machines indoors and outside have been changed so the service is available around the clock.
Customers who are blind or partially sighted can plug headphones into the ATMS. This allows them to access the same services as all other customers.
The talking ATMs have been launched in association with the Royal National Institute of Blind People and the Digital Accessibility Centre.
In the UK more than two million people have slight loss and the RNIB predicts this number will rise to 2,250,000 by 2020.
The bank has therefore decided to change all of its ATMs so they can be used by those with sight problems and each has 24-hour access.
How it works
The idea behind the launch is to give customers more independence by allowing them to manage their money with the aid of headphones.
The ATMs have voice assistants, which will guide the person through the process and help them with their banking needs.
“Visually impaired people want to be treated the same as other people”
Sam Knight-Saunders, 32, works in the Reading Santander branch and he is partially sighted. Sam used to be a branch manager but after losing his sight in one eye and a series of operations, he became a customer service assistant in the branch.
He says: “We have lots of visually impaired customers and they are really excited about the fact they can now access their money at any time of the day.
“Until now they have either struggled to use an ATM or had to rely on a member of staff to help them but they just want to be in the same position as everyone else.
“These people want the same options as everyone else and to do everything other customers can do – which they now can.
“It would be good if every bank in the UK followed suit and maybe they will be guilted into it after they see what Santander have done.
“Visually impaired people just want to be treated the same as other people.”
Susan Allen, head of retail distribution at Santander UK comments: “We are committed to supporting all our customers so they can manage their money independently and with confidence.
“Our work in providing equal service to all our customers remains a priority, and working with RNIB and the DAC to develop talking ATMs is a positive step forward.”
And Scott Lynch, director of solutions at RNIB, adds: “Helping people living with sight loss to remain independent and carry out everyday tasks with confidence is at the heart of what we do.
These talking ATMs are a practical solution to some of the challenges faced, helping to empower blind and partially sighted people so they can experience the same freedom as everyone else and retain their financial independence.”
Staff at Santander will be holding a series of events and training sessions in August out of usual banking hours for those with sight problems to go into the branch and learn about the new talking ATMs. Ask in store for details.
The bank has also invested in a virtual reality app and accompanying goggles created by the RNIB, which simulate sight loss. Staff in Merchant Street and at other branches have been able to use these so they can understand what it feels like to lose their sight. This means they are better able to help customers who are visually impaired.