How can the visually impaired open and operate account in Nigeria unaided?
This question becomes pertinent since it appears that the banks do not provide facilities that are accessible and independently useable by the blind.
For instance, no voice guidance and tactile keyboards on the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) thatbanks expect them to use; no screen reading software in terms of online banking that enables the computer speak everything that appears on the screen.
In developed countries, internet and telephone banking services are developed to enable customers who are blind use them just as easily as anyone else.In most cases, majority of banks staff even lack the needed awareness and competence to attend to people with disability.
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However, banks in both advanced and developing countries have guidelines to help the visually impaired open and operate a bank account.
The website of Disability Alliance of Voluntary Organisations(DAVO) www.davo.in/banking_ for_vip shows the steps banks should take to make visually impaired customers open and operate account:
•Banking facilities for visually impaired persons should be offered at all branches of the bank.
•Banks should not equate visually impaired customers with illiterate customers.
•All Banks must provide the same facilities to a visually impaired customer/prospective customer as it would to any other customer. But at the same time, the customers should be made aware of the risk involved in some of these facilities which may be higher than that for a normal customer.
•Additional facilities like reading and filling up of forms, slips, cheques should be provided to a visually impaired customer, if required.
•Banks should not deny any services to visually impaired customers including visually impaired customers who use their thumb impression for operating the bank account.
•A visually impaired customer must not be forced to operate the bank account jointly with any person or in the presence of any person.
•Visually impaired customers may be allowed to appoint a person/persons as their Power of Attorney or Mandate Holder to operate their bank account if the visually impaired customer so desires.
Opening of bank accounts
•All banking products offered by the bank should be made available to visually impaired persons.
•The bank must follow the same procedure for opening the account of a visually impaired person as it does for its other customers.
•He / She must be allowed to open the account either singly or jointly with others.
•The Bank must allow the visually impaired customer to open a joint account with anybody that he/she chooses including person(s) who is/are visually impaired.
•The Officer / Manager of the branch should read out the rules of business and other terms and conditions in the presence of a witness, if required by the customer.
•The bank branch manager must inform a visually impaired customer/prospective customer of his rights and liabilities before opening the account.
•The documentation requirements of a visually impaired customer must be the same as any other customer.
•The account has to be clearly marked as “the account holder is visually impaired”.
Withdrawal of cash/Cheque book facility
•Facilities for withdrawal of cash as are provided to all customers regarding cash payments must be provided to visually impaired customers.
•In case a visually impaired customer makes cash withdrawals at the bank then the payment must be made in the presence of another bank employee/officer. No outside witnesses are required unless the visually impaired customer requests that such witnesses be present.
•Operations should not be restricted to self-withdrawals.
•Cheque book facility should not be denied to visually impaired person.
•All procedures pertaining to the use of such cheque books by visually impaired customers must be in accordance with that the other customers.
•Cheques issued by visually impaired persons to third parties should be honoured, if otherwise in order.
Credit Cards/Debit Cards
•blind customers must be issued credit cards/debit cards on request.
•All rules and regulation regarding credit/debit card must be available on the web-site of the respective bank in accessible format. These should be read out to visually impaired persons and perceived risk factors explained to them.
•Banks may consider issuing Credit/Debit Card with Photograph. This Photograph will work as a identification/verification.
•Visually impaired customers must be availed of ATM facilities.
•Banks should also ensure that the ATMs are accessible to other categories of persons with disabilities such as the orthopaedically disabled.
Online banking/mobile banking and tele banking/phone banking
•All banks must have Accessible websites and conform to international accessibility standards.
•All customers facing applications such as web applications, desktop applications and mobile applications should be accessible to visually impaired persons.
•The banks should have alternate methods of user authentication/password verification.
•All features especially those related to customer security must be accessible visually impaired persons.