CBA ‘progressing’ with Albert accessibility upgrades, training

Tutorial video to help merchants help vision-impaired shoppers to go live next week

Commonwealth Bank of Australia says it has begun rolling out accessibility upgrades to its Albert point-of-sale device, following a lengthy legal battle that settled in December.

The upgrades come in response to a discrimination case brought against the bank last year by former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes and Nadia Mattiazzo, whose complaint focused on the difficulty blind and vision-impaired people have in securely using the touchscreen device.

The complainants, along with advocacy group Blind Citizens Australia, had been raising issues about the device since 2016. While the Albert POS has some accessibility features – which begin with a 10-minute audio tutorial and end with a set of gestures to learn – they were deemed inadequate by disabled users.

Low-vision and blind users had been pushing for a physical, tactile keypad which could be plugged in or laid over the touchscreen. However, the complainants settled on the bank promising to provide improved accessibility features for the device and training for merchants and vision-impaired users.

The bank said software upgrades would include “easier activation of the accessibility feature and other enhancements”.

There are currently around 94,000 Alberts in use across Australia. The bank could not immediately say how many of the devices had already been upgraded, or when it estimated all devices would be.

However, a CBA website for Albert merchant users notes that software upgrades, including accessibility enhancements, begun in February and is “being progressively rolled out across all existing terminals over the next six months”.

The site says the upgrades include “more ways for you or your customers who are blind or have vision loss to activate the mode and new voice prompts about account selection, transaction amount and PIN entry”.

CBA told Computerworld that it was “on track” to publish a video on its website for merchant customers and card holders about the accessibility feature, how to activate it, and how a cardholder may use it, by Tuesday next week. An updated user guide and information booklet on the accessibility feature is already live on the merchant facing site.

“CBA is also progressing with its work to provide its merchant customers, and make available to card holders who are blind or vision impaired, additional training and support, to increase awareness about the accessibility feature and its function,” a spokesperson added.

The bank in December vowed to run annual training sessions in capital cities throughout Australia for people who are blind or vision impaired to receive information about the accessibility feature, although no dates have yet been set.

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