Ask Banks to Implement RBI directive of making Branch & ATMs accessible

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As per a RBI guideline issued in July 2011, banks need to make provisions of ramps, talking ATMs with Braille keypads. However, these guidelines have hardly been implemented. Out of nearly 160,000 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the country, only 6,000 have provisions of ramps, talking ATMs with Braille keypads. This means, almost 96 out of the 100 ATMs in the country are not accessible for the people with special needs. 

The wording of Clause 3 in RBI’s circular dated April 13th 2009, (Circular No RBI/2008- 09/431 DBOD.No.Leg.BC.123 / 09.07.005 /2008-09) (see Annexure C) has been diluted by many banks by merely sticking to the letter rather than the spirit of the RBI intent. This has significantly compromised the roll-out of truly accessible ATMs with banks claiming to have met the “Braille labels / talking ATM” requirement, which in reality is indeed problematic.

Over the past few years, the banking system in India, helmed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has come a long way in empowering such persons. RBI circulars and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) procedural guidelines on inclusive banking have established a strong basis for Inclusive Banking for Disabled Persons, particularly Blind and Low-Vision customers. However, despite these rules, regulations and guidelines, the ground-level reality for such customers of various banks in India continues to remain abysmal. Many such persons continue to be refused access to banking services. In the exceptional cases where they are given access, they experience extremely discriminatory procedures, which contradict the essential spirit of these rules, regulations and guidelines.

Clearly, a lot more needs to be done on the 2 ground to enable such persons to actualize their potential and live with dignity and fulfilment. For instance, fully accessible bilingual ATMs have the potential to empower not just blind and low-vision persons but also the vast majority of illiterate and semi-literate people across rural, urban and semi-urban areas of India. Such ATMs have great untapped potential in the area of Direct Cash Transfers to the marginalised section of society.



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