As a blind person I frequently use my debit card to pay for goods and services. Big deal I hear you say, countless individuals use debit and credit cards every day of the year so why are you whittering on inanely about blind people and debit cards? The reason for this post is to flag-up the problems which blind people experience when using pin pads to pay for goods and services, up and down the land every day of the year. Firstly let me make it clear that I support the principle of chip and PIN (the use of a unique number to pay for goods and services), the technology has greatly reduced fraud as compared to the previous system where people merely signed for transactions. Signatures can be forged while it is very difficult to ascertain someone’s PIN unless they are careless or are subject to fraud.
The problem with Chip and PIN is that the machines used to take payment are of varying designs which makes it difficult for a blind person, such as myself to navigate around them. Granted all machines have a raised dot on the number 5 which helps with navigation, however some of these markings are barely legible and (over time) the raised dot can disappear as I recently discovered while shopping in a well known high street electrical store. In addition some pads have random keys which (so far as I can ascertain) serve no useful function other than to confuse the hapless user! Some pads have a row of buttons, at the top of the machine and one only reaches the numerical keypad by going to the second row. Again other machines have small buttons which makes navigation complicated. In most instances I can use the technology unaided, however I often have to take a minute (sometimes longer) to examine the pad prior to using it.
The solution to my mind is to standardise the design of pin pads thereby ensuring that visually impaired people are faced with the same pad irrespective of which ever establishment they happen to be shopping in.
Next time you are out shopping try closing yor eyes and exploring a pin pad with only your hands to guide you and you will understand the problems faced by blind people. Well perhaps don’t do that as you may be seenas some kind of oddball but then again who cares what others think!