Launch of new Mobile @Vodacom Kiosk for the blind and visually impaired at @CouncilForBlind

In partnership with Vodacom, the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) officially launched a mobile service kiosk at their Pretoria offices yesterday (Wednesday 8 June), bringing mobile communication closer to visually impaired people.

These days, smartphones come with built-in accessibility features on both Android and iOS platforms enabling people with various disabilities to also have access to the amazing world of independence and the internet.

The kiosk will provide step-by-step guidance and serve as an information hub and one stop shop for blind and visually impaired people who are interested in accessible phones.

For more information, please contact the SANCB on 012-452-3811.

South African Banking Accessibility Survey for blind and visually impaired persons

If you are living in South Africa and live with a visual impairment, you are no doubt one of those who might have received terrible service from your bank.

 

Or, just perhaps they might have amazed you with their accessibility of their products and/or services.

 

You may also recall the difficulty that I’ve had with FNB in the past and ABSA who joined them in ignoring our calls for action on fixing the inaccessibility of their services.  If you haven’t read those articles, let me just say that their attitude stinks and that FNB still dismissed my request for dialogue even though I have approached them as the representative of Blind SA, a national consumer organization of and for the blind.

 

Either way, we have finally launched the South African Banking Survey that you can now complete.

 

The purpose of this survey is to gain a greater understanding of the service needs of people with visual impairment who are making use of products and/or services provided by banks in South Africa.

 

We are seeking people who are blind or visually impaired (or their caregivers), who are willing to complete a few questions.

 

If you want to be contacted for assistance to complete the survey, please let us know on Facebook or on Twitter.  Optionally, please phone us on 0127533663.

 

Thank you to Unlocking Abilities (PTY) Ltd. for hosting the survey.

Three years later: FNB and inaccessibility to blind and visually impaired customers

The below is an email response on a mailing list where the topic of FNB seems to be quite hot at present.

 

There are some members who want to keep it quiet as they would like to keep it internal but, as another poster pointed out:

 

“We have a right to our independence and it is up to us to claim that right.
I agree that the fact that one receives an SMS later to confirm a transaction, is just not good enough; nor is the fact that one immediately might get back one’s card. The person at the shop could easily write down one’s PIN for later use the next time you unsuspectingly rock up at the shop. Besides, this lack of assertiveness would only further create the impression that we are happy to acquiesce in the development of inaccessible facilities and would find ourselves having to rely on the eyes of others more and more. Instead of trying to get workarounds, we should strongly oppose things like inaccessible POS, online banking, SARS eFiling, prepaid meters, unmarked hotel key cards, etc. These developers have got away with it precisely because we have not opposed those developments vigorously enough and have been satisfied with the consolation prizes of confirmation SMSes after the fact and the eyes of others.

Blind SA has an Advocacy and Information committee which is currently grappling with all the matters I mentioned above. FNB’s attitude is shocking, to say the least, but if necessary, we will take them to the SAHRC or even the Constitutional Court. Continue reading Three years later: FNB and inaccessibility to blind and visually impaired customers

ABSA, joining the FNB camp of non-cooperation – not interested in the blind or visually impaired

Difficulties regarding independence, recognition, rights, etc. is an ongoing fact of life if You are a person living with a disability.

Recently I got quite involved in the accessibility and disability rights arena.

I encountered touch screen card machines on one of my shopping trips but, dismissed it and shopped somewhere else instead but, when I received an email regarding the experience of another person, I realized that this is going to become a problem.

I quote:

My request to you then, do you have sufficient contact with the others banks mentioned above to address this matter? It simply is not acceptable that a blind person will have to be dependent on someone else to enter his / her PIN at these point of sale machines.

End of quote:

Now, this is only one issue that was raised.  Continue reading ABSA, joining the FNB camp of non-cooperation – not interested in the blind or visually impaired

What about AG Mobile devices?

It is hard to imagine that just ten years ago, we were struggling to find an accessible phone for the blind. yes, there were the Nokias running on Symbian but, that was basically what you had to deal with.

Today, thanks to innovation from Google, Microsoft and Apple, we have a choice between Android, Windows mobile and iOS. We also have a number of manufacturers giving us options in the hardware space. Huawei, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, HTC, Nokia, etc.

However, as you know, we do not always know if the software works so nicely with the hardware as many network operators and manufacturers modifies the operating system features.

In this light, I have been asked how accessible this phone or that phone might be for a person here in South Africa who might be considering a new contract with one of the operators or who might be due for an upgrade on an existing one.

It is difficult to recommend phones if I have not worked with them myself. On paper, things might look (okay) but, many times, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

AG Mobile is a new local mobile phone manufacturer on the SA landscape and I have been asked specifically about the accessibility of these devices for blind and visually impaired persons.

It would appear that this phone is primarily available from Cell C but, I might be wrong.

At this point, I cannot recommend any of the AG Mobile devices to any person who is blind or visually impaired, as I have not been able to test any of these devices thus far.

There are a number of really good phones and if you don’t have the funds to waste, don’t spend it on something that is not going to work for you.

I was very sad when I learned of a fellow blind person who was promised by a salesperson that this AG Mobile device would be perfect for her and that it is exactly the same as Samsung, if not better.

It is not exactly the same as Samsung, or Huawei, or HTC, or whatever other phone’s name you want to mention. It is exactly as the AG Mobile device it is supposed to be.

Be careful, guys and girls. Do not just sign up and believe the sales blabber that you hear. Their job is to sell to whoever they can. They don’t give a damn about the fact that you don’t earn a lot of money or that you are blind or visually impaired.

If you find that it works for you, please let us know. Let’s empower one another by sharing info.

UPDATE 9 May, 2016

I’ve had the chance to play with three of the devices and all I can say is: STAY FAR AWAY FROM THEM IF YOU ARE USING TALKBACK.

The phones were buggy, crashed, hanged, restarted on its own and generally didn’t perform well at all.