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Financial Access

Ensuring Economic Independence for the Visually Challenged: Financial Access

Whilst access to education and employment are slowly but surely opening doors to equal employment opportunities for the visually challenged, pre held myths and erroneous rules and regulations have kept financial and economic independence of gainfully employed persons with blindness and low vision out of reach.

As part of its financial access initiative, the XRCVC has actively worked towards equitable rules and regulations for availing banking and other financial services as also for practical ground-level technology solutions to create access.

Equal Rules to Create New Openings

Rules and regulations within various financial institutions, be it the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) related to opening and operating of independent bank accounts, or the National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL) related to independent operation of Demat accounts, were negatively skewed for the visually challenged.

The XRCVC over the past few years, through its advocacy initiatives, has been able get these respective regulatory bodies to issue new guidelines that uphold the equal rights of persons with blindness and low vision to independently open, operate and use all financial services therein.

The XRCVC has also closely worked with the Indian Banks' Association to ensure effective implementation of these guidelines. At Antarchakshu 2013, XRCVC's annual awareness event, the XRCVC partnered with the IBA to use the event to spread awareness on financial access amongst the banking community. The XRCVC also released a handbook titled 'Bankers' Guide to Inclusive Banking' during the said event.

The XRCVC has also worked at initiating networks within the banking industry, to set up an effective customer redressal system.

Technology Solutions to Create Access – Accessible ATMs, ‘E-signs’

In addition to working with the regulatory authorities, the XRCVC has taken a proactive approach to build technology solutions to ensure that the equal access guaranteed in the circulars is translated into practice.

A key area of work has been the XRCVC's successful partnership with leading ATM manufacturers and the banking industry in India to launch India’s first fully Accessible ATMs in 2012. The first fully accessible bi-lingual ATM was launched in India by Union Bank of India at the Blind People's Association, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad. This launch has been followed by deployment of many more ATMs by Union Bank of India as also State Bank of India. This momentum has now been adopted as an industry standard as well.

The XRCVC has worked actively to create the standard documents. In addition, the XRCVC has also worked with leading banks to create relevant material for accessible ATMs in accessible formats, be it Braille or DAISY.

You can access these documents here:

Standards for Accessible ATMs

In addition to this, the XRCVC has also worked with CMC Limited to develop innovative finger print signature recognition software for cheque transactions – ‘e-SIGNS’. This solution is ready to be tested within the banking set-up to take the idea forward.