Kiosk Newsbit

Wells Fargo To Build Talking ATMs

June 25, 1999

SAN FRANCISCO - The Associated Press via
NewsEdge Corporation : Blind bank customers
in California may no longer have to feel their
way through ATM transactions. 

Wells Fargo & Co., threatened with a
class-action lawsuit, agreed Wednesday to
be the first bank in the nation to install
talking ATM machines. 

Though the technology is still being
developed, the machines will eventually be at
all Wells Fargo branches in California. 

The company promised to have 20 machines
in place in Los Angeles, San Diego and the
San Francisco Bay area within the next year,
and 100 installed by September 2000. 

Wells Fargo has spent more than four years
negotiating with the California Council of the
Blind and the Disability Rights Education and
Defense Fund. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which
guarantees equal access to public facilities,
would have likely been the basis of a lawsuit
against the bank, said Elaine Feingold, a
lawyer with the Council of the Blind. 

Although most ATMs already provide
instructions for the blind in Braille, only 10
percent of the blind actually know the
written language of raised dots, the San
Francisco Chronicle reported today. 

And even Braille cannot reproduce important
information such as an account's balance,
which appears on the ATM's electronic

The voice ATMs will recite the information,
with headphones offered for privacy. 

Wells Fargo spokesman Larry Haeg said
installing the talking machines is just another
way the bank can take care of its
customers. He did not know how many
current Wells Fargo customers are blind. 


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