Phoenix Interactive Design, Inc.

Phoenix Interactive Design, Inc.

June 27, 2005 08:01 ET

Northern Unveils Europe's First Cash Machine for the Blind; Getting Cash from Bank Machines Has Always Been a Nightmare for the Blind - Until Now

LONDON, Ontario--(CCNMatthews - Jun 27, 2005) -

Today Northern Bank unveiled a revolutionary speaking ATM, designed specifically for the blind and partially sighted.

It, together with its former sister bank Clydesdale, are the first banks in Europe to use the new software which will help transform thousands of peoples' lives. And the Royal National Institute for the Blind says that it is delighted with the development.

Canadian software company Phoenix Interactive designed the technology, known as Text to Speech.

By simply plugging a set of headphones into a jack, which is fitted to the front of the ATM, the user is able to access the service.

The machine uses an automated voice to guide visually impaired people to the exact locations of items such as the numbers on the keypad, the cash dispenser and all other devises on the machine. It will also talk them through each stage of the process whether they are checking balances or withdrawing cash.

RNIB's campaigns officer David Mann said: "ATM's are really difficult to use for the blind or partially sighted because all the information is displayed visually. I have learned to use my own bank's machines, by memorizing where all the buttons are. But that still doesn't help me if anything goes wrong - if there are insufficient funds in my account, or if the machine is not dispensing ten-pound notes etc. And I can't use the ATMs for any other bank.

"This is therefore great news for the visually impaired - a real breakthrough for Northern Bank, and I'd call on all the other banks to follow suit.

"The service is great - there's a very thorough guide which leads you through all the functions, but after a while you are able to skip through the process very quickly."

Rosamond Bennett, marketing director of Northern said: "We're really proud of this new facility and delighted to be the first in Europe to be rolling it out. We've planned it very carefully and consulted with visually impaired customers and staff before going live with it."

To date two ATMs have been kitted out with the new technology. One is inside the bank's Donegall Square North branch, and the other in Connswater Shopping Centre Belfast. The pilot will run for six months - and if successful the bank will consider extending the service.

The technology was developed whilst Northern Bank was still part of the National Australia Group and so it is also being piloted by its former sister bank Clydesdale in Glasgow.

There are 5,000 people registered as visually impaired in Northern Ireland, but Government estimates put the true figure at as high as 50,000.

"Phoenix Interactive is extremely proud to celebrate Europe's first Text to Speech implementation," said Ms. Kyle MacDonald, CEO of Phoenix Interactive. "This enhanced functionality will open the door to new ATM users and ensure that everyone has equal and easy access to their accounts."

"As this is the first Audio ATM implementation in Europe, we're certain everyone will see the tremendous benefit it offers to all banking customers," said MacDonald. "Phoenix has already worked with many our other clients around the world in introducing this technology in various languages. Our technology is currently running in the US, Australia and now Europe. As Phoenix firmly supports ATM access for all, we will continue to work with our clients around the world to support Audio enabled ATMs."

Contact Information

  • For Phoenix Interactive, London
    Joy Harper, 678-781-7203