Opening your first bank account is a key part of growing up and becoming independent. Natalie Doig talks through the options
For many young people leaving school, attending further and higher education or getting a job will be the trigger point for opening their first bank account. Many banks offer young people enticing offers to open their first current account. Vouchers, free student rail cards and overdraft deals are the kind of enticements banks offer. But if you’re blind or partially sighted it’s not easy working out which bank or bank account is going to meet your needs.
Banks and building societies are subject to the Equality Act like any other service and this means that they need to make reasonable adjustments for their disabled customers. For blind and partially sighted people this means that banks should provide banking information in accessible formats such as large print, email, through accessible websites and apps, audio and braille. That information includes things like bank statements, letters, leaflets, in fact any information that the bank needs or wants to provide to its customers.
But it’s not just about information. Banks and building societies have recently agreed to provide accessible cash machines (ATMs) after an RNIB campaign called Make Money Talk. These talking ATMs have already been introduced by Barclays, Co-op, Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Nationwide with HSBC, NatWest, RBS and Santander due to follow by 2015.
It’s really important for any young blind or partially sighted person to find out how the bank they want to open an account with, is going to meet their needs. Some banks provide different services. For example Barclays allow you to design your own bank card in colours that make it easier to see, if you are partially sighted. But all banks should provide information to customers in accessible formats and talking ATMs now or in the near future.
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