Lauren Henley, Policy and Advocacy Manager

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Touch screen technology has now entered the retail industry, and it’s compromising the privacy, dignity and independence of people who are blind or vision impaired Australia-wide.

You may already have come across a touch screen EFTPOS terminal when trying to pay for a product in a shop or settle the bill at a restaurant. If not though, you’re bound to encounter one in your travels sometime soon.

These devices do not have a physical keypad with buttons like the older EFTPOS terminals we are used to using. Even though steps may have been taken to try to make these products accessible, their touch screen-only interface makes it difficult or impossible for most people who are blind or vision impaired to enter their PIN independently. This has resulted in many customers having to disclose their PIN to someone else just to be able to make a payment.

BCA is undertaking extensive advocacy on this issue at a policy level, but we need your help to get the message out to businesses in your local community. Here are five simple things you can do to help raise awareness of this issue:

1. Speak Up

Whenever you come across an EFTPOS terminal that has physical buttons, you might like to start a conversation with the customer service representative about how important this is. You could also consider asking to speak to the Manager to thank them for continuing to use a device with physical buttons, or phone the store back and do this later.

2. Give them a Postcard

Whenever you encounter an inaccessible touch screen device in your travels, you might like to provide the customer service representative with one of BCA’s EFTPOS accessibility postcards. Each postcard includes the BCA logo and contact details, as well as the tag line: “use touch screen EFTPOS devices, lose touch with your customers”.

The back of the postcard includes the following text:

“I want to pay you, but I can’t use your EFTPOS terminal because it does not have physical buttons. The touch screen design means that people who are blind or vision impaired like me cannot enter their PIN independently. I don’t want to share my PIN with you or anyone else – nor should I have to. Please give this card to your manager. Ask them to tell your bank to stop rolling out EFTPOS machines which can only be operated using touch screens and to give you a device with a keypad with buttons instead. This is the only legal and accessible way for a person who is blind or vision impaired to pay.”

Each postcard has a hole cut out of one corner to assist with orientation. When you are holding the postcard with the front facing towards you, the hole will be in the top left hand corner. If you are holding it with the back facing towards you, it will be in the right hand corner.

These postcards are available to you at no cost. All you have to do is contact BCA and ask for some to be sent to your nominated address. To assist with our work on this issue, we’d also really appreciate you getting in touch to let us know when and where you’ve used a postcard.

3. Get on the Air

You could contact your local community radio station and ask them to run a segment on the problems associated with inaccessible touch screen EFTPOS terminals. You could also find opportunities to raise this issue on talkback radio. If you aren’t quite sure what to say, you can obtain a one-page fact sheet from BCA which may help.

4. Make the Headlines

You could write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to help draw attention to the issues associated with inaccessible touch screen EFTPOS terminals. If you aren’t sure what to include in your letter, you can contact BCA for further information or advice.

5. Write to the Royal Commission

You may be aware that a Royal Commission is currently underway to inquire into instances of misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. If you have encountered an inaccessible EFTPOS terminal or ATM, we encourage you to consider lodging a short submission with the royal Commission. (Edit: please note that submissions are now closed.) 

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