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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

ATM`s screens are too high and tilted against disabled persons

3rd January 2013
A step up to an ATM causes a barrier for a person using a wheelchair

Disabled persons seem to be left out of the tech-advances made in the country and an avid example maybe found in financial institutions which have adopted the fast and efficient use of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).

Through these devices, clients can deposit and withdraw cash at any time without the hustle of physically going into the bank.

Yet despite their many advantages, ATMs in the country are not designed to accommodate disabled persons because they are simply too high and screens tilted too far from view for a person on a wheel chair.
The matter was raised during a recent training on Guidelines for Advocacy on Gender issues as laid out by the Tanzanian Trade Policy by Renatus A. Ngh’arambi, Managing Director of Dar es salaam based, Disabled Engineering Group.

The meeting was organised by the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce (TWCC) whereby addressing the attendants,  the director appealed to the financial institutions to design, create and install special ATMs for customers with disabilities.

He pointed out that ironically the banks and other financial institutions issue to the disabled clients ATM cards in disregard of how they are to use them.

As a result, when push comes to shove and there are no other feasible options, most of the disabled community opt to seek aid from even strangers whom they are forced to furnish with their password, a move that is extremely risky to say the least.

A move by the banks towards this initiative, creation of ATM’s that can be accessed independently by people with disabilities, will actually do them much good as it will increase their customer basis as well as the marginal as well as total amount of transactions which translates into high revenues.

On a different issue but on the same topic on limitations faced by the disabled community and more specifically, the non-inclusive technological advances propagated by a system that offers this special group no special treatment, the matter of extreme bureaucracy in acquisition of business licenses was raised.

Apparently, for disabled persons to get business licenses then they are required to put extra effort because of ‘bureaucracy at the councils’ level’ where officials send them through so much process that most quit along the way for they have to strain more (on stares, to reach high tables and counters, go through doors not designed to allow wheelchairs to pass).

“…due to this impediment, some of the people with disabilities have ceased to do business and continue to depend on their relatives, it is unnecessary when they are able to conduct business like any able person…,” asserted Managing Director Ngh’arambi.

In particular, he singled out the Kinondoni Municipal Council staff saying they are notorious for ignoring and underserving them.

He reminded all, the problem is diverse and intricate across all sectors and the direness calls for immediate reform of policies to include favourable measures and bills for special group persons.

“…they don’t value us…,” said the director who is himself a disabled “…treat us as though we cannot do we are good for nothing or a bother to them…,” complained the disgruntled director.

As such the director appealed to the government and other stakeholders on the need for a prompt intensive and extensive awareness campaign to change the mindsets of the public especially social service providers.



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