More than 75 percent of Barclays cash machines in England and Wales have been equipped for audio, fulfilling the bank's commitment to the Royal National Institute of Blind People and its Make Money Talk campaign. In a press release, Barclays announced that it was the first major High Street bank to provide this service.

"This enhancement to our ATMs provides greater access and choice," said Bob Bond, chief customer network officer for Barclays retail and business banking. "We hope the increased independence and privacy it offers will enable a new group of people to access ATMs and undertake an essential activity that so many of us take for granted."

Blind and partially sighted people can now plug into audio jacks to hear options and instructions for an ATM transaction at more than 3,000 Barclays ATMs. Previously these customers had to ask for help from a friend or relative — or even a passing stranger — if they wanted to use an ATM. Customers will be able to find the nearest audio ATM using Barclays ATM finder, available at the Barclays website.

Make Money Talk was launched by the RNIB in September 2011. The campaign called for banks in the UK to provide ATMs with audio facilities for blind and partially sighted customers. Now that Barclays has added audio capability, RNIB's group director of inclusive society, Fazilet Hadi, is calling for other banks to follow its example.

About 370,000 registered blind or partially sighted people live in the UK. An RNIB survey indicated that 10 percent of the visually disabled do not have bank accounts and 11 percent use ATMs independently. Of the remainder, 45 percent (114,000) said they would use ATMs if they were made accessible via audio.

For more on this topic, visit the bank/credit union research center.

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