MINNEAPOLIS -- U.S. Bank on Monday began operation of Minnesota's first voice-guided automated teller machines in the new U.S. Bancorp Center, making the ATMs more accessible to visually impaired people.
The two machines look like standard ATMs but have headphone jacks on the front where visually impaired customers insert their headphone plugs then listen for voice prompts to guide them through transactions.
The first prompt states: "Welcome to our UBank ATM. Please insert your card, magnetic stripe (or the reverse side of the raised letters) down, for service."
Most customers can find where to insert the card by touching, but the card reader also has a braille indicator, said Marge Utke-Christianson, manager of ATM services for U.S. Bank,
Once the card is inserted, the voice continues, "Please enter your Personal Identification Number." Further instructions offer direction in how to cancel or restart the process, how to ask for more choices or how to request a receipt.
"You hear the same thing a sighted person would see on the screen," Utke-Christianson said. The keypad, arranged like a telephone keypad, also has braille numbers.
"You don't have to read braille to use the keypad if you know the keys," she said.
U.S. Bank will install 14 more voice-guided ATMs at seven Minnesota locations this year, Utke-Christianson said.
"It's something that as we buy new machines we will automatically include this feature," she said.
"One of the most inaccessible items for blind people has been the ATMs," said Joyce Scanlan, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
"It has been both an issue of privacy and practicality. Banking is something you want to take care of yourself without having to ask a friend or bank teller for help," Scanlan said.
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