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Blind double-amputee cricketer bats for touchscreen EFTPOS devices to have tactile keypads

This petition had 437 supporters

My name is Martin Stewart. I have lived with blindness my whole life. In 2002, on an ordinary day on my way to work, I stepped into what I thought was an open carriage doorway of a train that had just pulled into Melbourne’s Richmond Station and fell into the void between carriages and onto the tracks. Despite the desperate attempts of an onlooker to flag down the driver, the train took off, dragging me 200 metres along the tracks (read about my accident here).

Although my accident left me a double-amputee, which included losing my dominant right hand (causing me to no longer be able to read Braille), I make the most of my remaining limbs and am an avid cricket player and a whiz at using my iPhone. But new touchscreen EFTPOS devices, like the Commonwealth Bank's Albert, are taking away my ability of entering my PIN at the checkout. CommBank retro-fitted a patented software feature onto the Albert called Accessibility Mode, but it is gesture-based and impractical for many people to use, including those who experience blindness or low vision, limited hand dexterity, cognitive challenges, older people and those not au fait with touchscreen technology. You must enter your PIN if the bill is over $100, and that's a pretty usual amount if you are at the medical specialist, a restaurant or theme park with your family, Christmas shopping or buying Cricket gear at a sport's store.

Even though I am able to use my iPhone in a private setting, being put on the spot to enter a PIN on a touchscreen payment device, without the familiar raised buttons of the tactile keypad (i.e. with the dot on the 5 to orientate one's fingers with surety), is nerve-wracking in the busy and noisy environments where these machines are found, often with impatient customers queuing behind and making loud sighs and other exasperated noises. This is exposing people to the risk of needing to disclose their PIN number to staff in order to pay, oftentimes in earshot of other customers. Prior to young Connor McLeod's campaign win for the tactile feature on the $5 and other bank notes, blind and vision impaired Australians also had to keep people waiting at the checkout. The simple raised dots solution on the notes has changed all of that, as would a tactile keypad with the dot on the 5. Otherwise, insanely, we may need to become familiarised with different PIN Entry gestures for each device, because the Albert method is patented, whereas a keypad is standard and universal.

So I am asking that the Australian Bankers' Association make it a requirement for physical button keypads with a raised dot on the 5 to be permanently attached to touchscreen EFTPOS devices in their updated Industry Standards on Accessibility of Electronic Banking, to enable a secondary method of independent PIN Entry, until such time as a more accessible, inclusive solution is devised.

Community groups such as the Digital Gap Initiative – who are supporting me with this petition – reported on this issue back in September 2015. The Bank went into damage control and set up familiarisation sessions for Accessibility Mode, but feedback from Vision Australia states: "Regardless of attempts to familiarise people who are blind or have low vision with tablet gesture-based devices, it must be emphasised that this is neither the preferred, nor the most suitable payment option for the majority of our community."

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) is supporting me and several other consumers with disability who have lodged complaints about these devices to the Australian Human Rights Commission under the Disability Discrimination Act.

We must act now because more of these inaccessible touch screen devices are pouring across our shores.

So please sign my petition

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