EU backs project to improve ATM access for the disabled

EU backs project to improve ATM access for the disabled

The European Union is backing a project designed to make "public digital terminals" such as cash machines more accessible to disabled people.

Only 38% of around 425,000 ATMs in the EU have voice options for customers with disabilities, compared to 61% in the US and nearly all machines in Canada.

To help improve accessibility, the EU is putting up EUR3.41 million - around half of the overall budget - for a project called APSIS4All.

As part of this, 65 La Caixia cash machines in Barcelona featuring contactless technology from Fujitsu and voice software for the blind and sign language videos for people with hearing problems are being tested.

Another trial will feature 24 ticket vending machines operated by Höft & Wessel at Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany from January.

The EU says it wants a standardised framework to foster further take up of e-accessibility features by the ATM industry and service providers. The project will focus on NFC-based contactless technology and could see programmed cards that contains the user's preferences tested as well as mobile phone-based features.

One option not up for consideration is the use of animals - a plan adopted in 2007 by UK charity Canine Partners, which began training dogs to use cash machines for their disabled owners.

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