Talking ATM to help those with visual disabilities

The ATMs are enhanced with user-friendly functions for those who have visual disabilities, such as Braille instructions (left, top) and audio guidance. The user simply has to plug his or her earphones into the ATM's audiojack (left, bottom) to activa
The ATMs are enhanced with user-friendly functions for those who have visual disabilities, such as Braille instructions (above) and audio guidance. The user simply has to plug his or her earphones into the ATM's audiojack to activate the audio guidance function. Voice instructions are currently available only in English. ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG
The ATMs are enhanced with user-friendly functions for those who have visual disabilities, such as Braille instructions (left, top) and audio guidance. The user simply has to plug his or her earphones into the ATM's audiojack (left, bottom) to activa
The ATMs are enhanced with user-friendly functions for those who have visual disabilities, such as Braille instructions and audio guidance. The user simply has to plug his or her earphones into the ATM's audiojack (above) to activate the audio guidance function. Voice instructions are currently available only in English. ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG

People with visual disabilities can withdraw cash from automated teller machines (ATM) without help, but it is not always easy.

"We usually follow routine steps to withdraw money," said Mr Tan Wee Liam, 57, who is partially blind and works as a Braille transcriber.

"So, if there are problems, like if the ATM is short on cash, we won't know what has gone wrong. We have to ask the person behind us for help."

Mr Tan, and others like him, will now find the process friendlier after POSB launched 86 POSB Talking ATMs islandwide yesterday, the first time a bank has done so here on such a scale.

The ATMs, designed in partnership with the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), are enhanced with user-friendly functions for those who have visual disabilities, such as Braille instructions and audio guidance. The user simply has to plug his or her earphones into the ATM's audiojack to activate the audio guidance function.

The ATMs are enhanced with user-friendly functions for those who have visual disabilities, such as Braille instructions (left, top) and audio guidance. The user simply has to plug his or her earphones into the ATM's audiojack (left, bottom) to activa
Mr Chong Kwek Bin, 34, who is partially blind, trying out the Talking ATM. POSB kicked off its first large-scale launch of 86 Talking ATMs yesterday. Most of them are located at MRT stations, like Bishan, Dhoby Ghaut and Bugis, to ensure easy access.

Mr Tan said he was "very appreciative" of such an initiative. He added that it was no trouble to have to bring his own earphones.

The talking ATMs will help not only those with visual disabilities, but also elderly users who may be suffering from failing eyesight, said Mr Jeremy Soo, head of DBS' Consumer Banking Group (Singapore).

Most of POSB's Talking ATMs are located at MRT stations, like Bishan, Dhoby Ghaut and Bugis, to ensure easy access.

Voice instructions are currently available only in English and there are just two functions: withdrawing cash or checking the balance.

But there may be plans to include more languages or functions in the future, depending on feedback from users.

The guest of honour at the launch, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, said that as well as efforts by the Government, "businesses can, and should, take more initiative in making their services more accessible to persons with disabilities... this collaboration (between POSB and SAVH) provides a good example of what I hope our businesses can do".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Talking ATM to help those with visual disabilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe