I’ve mentioned several times here that I’m a big fan of Lainey Feingold’s work on accessibility. The Structured Negotiations process used has proven to pay dividends time and again in moving accessibility forward.
Two recent announcements from Lainey highlight the road this work often travels.
First is an announcement that all Bank of America ATMs in the U.S. are now talking ATMs. This represents more than 18,000 ATM installations and covers more than 15 years of effort since the bank was initially contacted about accessibility. Sure it has taken a long time and a big part of me wishes we never had to go to these efforts to achieve accessibility, but success is still success and when is the last time we could say “all” of anything met any accessibility definition?
Last week at CSUN I was talking about accessible ATMs with a few different people and will say here what I said to those individuals. I think the progress that has been made over the last several years on accessible ATMs is one of the better examples of how accessibility has moved forward from across the spectrum of areas where people have made attempts at improvements. The vast majority of ATMs today seem to at least have audio output and back when I used my first ATM in 1985, audio just wasn’t around. It is often hard to measure the positive of accessibility and like many I’ve used ATMs with relative success without audio. But the degree of confidence and independence I feel when I slide my headphone set into the audio jack on a talking ATM is the feeling I want when I use any technology.
And to be clear, using an ATM without audio access is only relatively successful. It requires memorization of a set pattern of key presses as just one limitation. Good luck if the prompts change as they seem to the one time you really need to use the machine.
The second success is an announcement that Best Buy will start adding tactile keypads to their point-of-sale devices, meaning individuals who are blind can independently enter PINs when making purchases at the stores. This is the way it should be. Conducting business shouldn’t require anyone to reveal this level of personal information to anyone else and should support full independence.
Press releases detail several involved in the progress here so congratulations to one and all. And make no mistake, while accessibility efforts like this tend to garner the headlines, I know many who work equally as hard making progress in other arenas and those folks deserve equal credit for what they do.