Banking Services for Older And Disabled People Improved

Monday, 30 November, 2009 – 13:31

The Human Rights Commission has helped the New Zealand Bankers’ Association develop a set of voluntary guidelines to help improve access to banking services by older and disabled people.

A function has been organised in Auckland on Monday 30 November to celebrate this initiative. The NZBA set up a Focus Group of representatives of banks and organisations representing older and disabled people.

The group developed the voluntary guidelines to assist banks meet their responsibilities under the Code of Banking Practice, NZ Bankers’ Association Chief Executive Officer Sarah Mehrtens and Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt announced today.

“The guidelines are a useful and practical step forward,” Sarah Mehrtens said.

“Banks want to help all customers to use banking services, and we now have a ‘what and how to’ set of guidelines that will assist banks to provide appropriate services and facilities.”

Banking is one area where older people and disabled people often struggle to cope, and our discussions with the banks have helped both us and them to understand what is needed and what can be done to improve services’,

The organisations involved were the Association of Blind Citizens, People First, the IHC, Deaf Aotearoa and the DPA. The Office of the Banking Ombudsman participated as an observer. The main areas covered by the guidelines are:

improving access to banking services including initiatives such as low tables and teller counters, user-friendly ATMs, meeting spaces and queuing aisles able to be used by wheelchairs, power assisted entry doors, and layout and signage suitable for customers who are partially sighted staff training to cover disability awareness including spotting signs of financial abuse express tellers and queuing by numbers observing international W3C web accessibility best practice standards easy to read information in alternative formats, including easy read, large print, Braille, DVD, including NZ Sign Language, and audio.

The voluntary guidelines will be reviewed in three years. The voluntary guidelines have been widely released to organisations representing older and disabled people, and are available at the NZBA website, the HRC website and the community organisations involved.

An afternoon tea function for the representatives of the community organisations is being held on 30 November at the rooms of Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand at 1836-1848 Great North Road, Avondale Auckland starting at 2.30pm. Sarah Mehrtens and Robyn Hunt will speak at the function.

Reproduced from