Five accessible banking features you (probably) didn’t know existed

The ability to manage your own finances and remain independent is essential but can be difficult when you’re visually impaired – in fact, only 29% blind and partially sighted people say they are able to manage their finances independently (RNIB). Luckily, most banks now offer a range of services to make everyday banking easier, quicker, and more accessible.

Our Trafford Tech Talk group carried out research into the different accessibility services available from major banks and shared their findings for the best features that can help you bank independently.

1. Adapted debit and credit cards

Some banks provide specially adapted debit and credit cards, free of cost. RBS and Natwest offer specially designed cards that include large print writing, a small notch or tactile logo to identify the correct way to insert your card, and raised dots to recognise whether the card is a credit, debit or savings card.

High vis Barclays credit card example, which is black with yellow highlights.

Barclays also offers a high-vis debit card, which is available in 12 different designs. You can design your own by getting in touch with the bank, or visiting their website at https://personalisedcard.barclays.co.uk/

Contactless cards are also now widely available, and remove the need for entering your pin on the keypad for transactions under £30. You can get in touch with your bank to replace your existing card with a contactless card, free of charge.

2. Wearable technology - pay using a wristband, sticker or even keychain!

Barclays have their own range of wearable technology called ‘bPay’. This includes wristbands, key fobs and stickers, which can be pre-loaded with up to £200 and swiped on contactless machines to make a payment. bPay can be a quick and safe way to carry small amounts of money discreetly on your person.

For more information visit their website at https://www.bpay.co.uk/

3 bPay devices in front of a white background; with a key fob, wristband and phone with bPay sticker on.

3. Banking on your phone or tablet

Many everyday banking tasks can be managed via your smartphone; checking your balance, transferring money, setting up text alerts for low balance, weekly mini statements, and even paying, can now all be done on your smartphone or tablet.

Our group found that most banking apps are clearly laid out and usable with a screen reader, such as the Natwest Banking app, which was recently accredited by the RNIB for its accessibility and features including a fingerprint login.

Depending on your device and who you bank with, there may also be an app available which can allow you to make payments with your phone when using a contactless card machine.

4. Audio cash machines

Audio or ‘talking’ ATMs are cash machines which have a slot for your earphones, so you can listen through the options on the screen rather than relying on the screen visually. These talking cash machines are becoming more and more popular, with banks such as Santander, Halifax and Barclays introducing them in recent years. If you need support in learning to use one of these machines, a member of staff at your bank should be able to help you.

You can find nearby audio ATMs using the app ‘Link ATM Locator’; this free app identifies your closest ATM, lets you know whether it has an audio feature, and connects to Google Maps to direct you there: www.link.co.uk/atm-locator.

Close up of a cash machine with slot for headphones to go in.

5. Handy tools for cheque writing

Bright pink plastic cheque template with slots to guide pen.Most banks offer additional gadgets that can help you with cheques, including a signature guide for signing cheques and other documents, a signature stamp to sign documents quickly and easily, a cheque book template, and large print chequebooks. Different banks offer different devices – get in touch with your bank to find out what they can provide you with.

To find out what accessibility features there are available at your bank, get in touch with them by phone or email or visit your local branch. You can also visit Choose’s website for a full list of the features available at each bank (the table is at the bottom of the page): www.choose.co.uk/guide/accessible-banking-for-blind-partially-sighted.html

If you’d like to keep in the loop with the latest tech, tricks and tips, make sure to sign up to Henshaws Knowledge Village; a place to share our knowledge and expertise with those experiencing or working with sight loss and disability.

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Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.
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