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Blind woman sues CBA over touchscreen POS machines



A blind woman has lodged a lawsuit against Commonwealth Bank of Australia over its “inaccessible” touchscreen-only Albert POS terminal, which she says is so difficult to use she often needs to share her PIN with shop staff.

In an unusual step for a bank, CBA teamed up with German tech firm Wincor Nixdorf and Ideo to launch an Android-based tablet POS system dubbed Albert in March 2015. The offering has proved a success, and there are now more than 88,000 machines throughout Australia.

Albert requires a PIN for purchases of $100 or more but the lack of a tactile keypad has proved a problem for 350,000 blind and visually impaired Australians.

Last July, Blind Citizens Australia and former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes spoke out about the issue, warning that people were being asked to risk security by divulging their PINs to retail staffers.

Innes, who says that he has been asking CBA to modify the machines for more than two years, has now teamed up with Nadia Mattiazzo to lodge the discrimination lawsuit.

“We have ramps into buildings, we have accessible technology, we have iPhones, which have an absolute accessibility feature built into them. It’s really disappointing to know that there are things being developed that don’t have that consideration,” says Mattiazzo.

In a statement, CBA says that Albert has an “accessibility solution for people who are blind or have low vision”.

This lets users listen to instructions to enter their PIN but Blind Citizens Australia CEO Emma Bennison told ABC that the feature is unsuitable and “terribly anxiety provoking”.

Meanwhile, CBA says: “As Albert evolves, we will continue to look for the best possible solutions, harnessing emerging technology and innovation, to ensure consistent experiences for all our customers using the device.”


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