“The Neglect of Accessible Banking for Blind People in South Africa”

As a person who is blind, I understand the challenges that come with navigating an often inaccessible world. Unfortunately, this extends to the financial sector, where accessible banking does not seem to feature on the priority list of our major banks in South Africa.

Financial independence is an important aspect of our overall wellbeing, and is promoted by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). However, this can only be achieved if our banking services are fully accessible and compliant with current universal design and accessibility standards.

One major issue is the lack of accessibility in mobile banking apps. For example, I am unable to access my statement on Standardbank’s mobile app, which is both frustrating and humiliating. This is despite the fact that I pay the same rates as other customers and should have the same level of access as other clients. In order for me to access my statement, I have to log onto online banking via a laptop. This is not equal access.

Another issue is some digital banking services, which forces blind people to share sensitive personal information with sighted people just to get banking done. This is because the mobile apps do not follow existing good practices in universal design. Sharing your ID, proof of residence, and other personal information is not only a breach of privacy, but it also puts us at risk of fraud and exploitation.

It is unacceptable that our banks do not prioritize accessibility in their services. As paying customers, we deserve the same level of access and privacy as other clients. Blind people already face high rates of unemployment, crime, and attitudinal barriers in society, and the lack of accessible banking only adds to our challenges.

In conclusion, accessible banking is a basic right for all customers, and it is time for our major banks in South Africa to prioritize accessibility in their services. It is unacceptable that blind people are forced to endure the humiliation and breach of privacy that comes with inaccessible banking. Perhaps some legal actions will have to be considered however, I will touch on this topic at a later stage.

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