DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AN ATM SIMULATION FOR BLIND, AND ILLETERATE USERS

Undergraduate

INTRODUCTION

Since the advent of new Information Communication Technologies, there has been significant surge in ATM assistive technologies. This has made life easier with accessibility of banking services by all but accessibility challenges by the visually impaired have not been fully addressed. An Automated Teller Machine is referred to as a cash machine, a cash dispenser and “the hole in the wall‟ among other names. The ATM is an electronic computerized telecommunications device that allows financial institutions (e.g. bank or building society) customers to directly use a secure method of communication to access their bank accounts. Being a self-service banking terminal, ATM‟s accepts deposits and dispenses cash. Most ATM‟s also let users carry out other banking transactions such as check balance, pay bill, change PIN, and request a mini-statement.  ATM‟s are activated by inserting a bank debit card into the card reader slot. The card will contain the customer’s account number and PIN (Personal Identification Number) on the cards magnetic stripe. When a customer is trying to withdraw cash for example, the ATM calls up the banks computers to verify the balance, dispenses the cash and then transmits a completed transaction notice. This is explored by the developments in information and communications technology (ICT) that support the adoption of software based on the user interface. Generally the paper is coined on the developments in ATMs interfaces and its enhancement on the human machine interaction (usually shortened as HCI) for the blind users. HCI describes the interaction between the user and a computer. But there are also a number of accessibility barriers for those with disabilities and other specific conditions like the blind that are in digital exclusion even with limited available ATM interaction facilities for them.  ATMs offer services that are vital in today’s life but still the blind, old and people with other cognitive challenges still may have serious accessibility issues which may limit use of such facilities or point of sale systems. Many different things could be regarded as part of the HCI, like the way the screen looks, or whatever the program makes it clear to the user what they have to do next.  This is where the term user friendly originated from. The user interface is becoming a sensitive part of the software system since we have different categories of people using computers. Constant innovation and changing approaches to programming and design have raised issues on user accessibility. Designing interfaces with special users in mind more especially the visually disabled is a challenge.

Cash dispensers and automatic teller machines (ATMs) are a common form of public access terminal, and have been in general use for many years. A number of guidelines, in various countries, have attempted to specify the parameters to alleviate the problems of disabled users. However it is only where there is relevant legislation, that these guidelines have been applied in a consistent manner. Within the European Union there are numerous different specifications required for ATMs, which means that manufacturers have to make slightly different models for different countries which adds to their costs. Although keypads with 1,2,3 in the top row (as on a conventional telephone) and with a raised dot on the 5 key are the norm, the position and marking of the function keys varies from country to country. Many manufacturers offer a range of accessibility options such as:

·         Audible prompts or audible output of non-confidential information

·        The facility to operate all functions from the keypad so overcoming the need to use a touch screen.

·         Providing space for a wheelchair footrest when using a perpendicular approach (rather than a parallel approach) to the ATM.

·        Illuminated card slots.

·        Multi-lingual display screens.

However many purchasers are reluctant to pay extra for such facilities unless they are obliged to do so (e.g. a regulatory or legal requirement). The MeAC study (Assessment of the Status of e-Accessibility in Europe http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/einclusion/library/studies/meac_study/index_en.htm) found that across the EU countries as a whole on average 8% of the ATMs installed by the two main national retail banks provided talking capabilities to customers with disabilities. A follow-up study a year later indicated that there had been no significant change over the intervening period. The guidelines issued by banking organizations are frequently ignored by the ATM suppliers since they feel them to be un-implementable or inappropriate. For instance the force to operate a key is quoted in a number of guidelines as not to exceed 22.2 Newton; many experts feel this figure ought to be an order of magnitude lower. The visually impaired person may encounter a lot of difficulties when using ATMs such as, learning where the objects are located on the screen, accidentally deleting a file or withdrawing money from the ATM. Improving interface navigability for visually impaired users has been dealt with in S. Kane, et al. (2009) through a set of gestures which allow the user to move around the UI controls and listen to their contents. Commercial implementations of this interface now exist as reported by Apple Inc. However, concerning text entry, blind users are still forced to use the built-in on-screen keyboard. Even though this keyboard may be able to speak the character above which the user’s finger is located, typing using this method is time consuming and error-prone. Letters on such keyboards are tiny and are placed too close to one another due to the constrained screen size and so the plethora of touch targets makes typing slow to the point of frustration.

In spite of this impressive overall growth, blind and visual impaired Nigerian’s still faces the challenge usage of ATM devices (Baez, Kenchiche, and Boguszewkw, 2010). But, despite cries for customized to speak in two popular Nigeria’s popular languages of Hausa and Pigeon English. The ATM device shall be designed with little as possible numbers of buttons that allow even illiterate blind Nigerians who can understand Hausa or Pigeon- English Languages to at least withdraw cash and also check for account balance through spoken words in these two languages.


STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS

Information and communication technology (ICT) is at its cutting edge and key for everyday life, facilitating access to essential services such as those of the banking sector. ATMs have made it possible for bank transactions but the blind have not fully embraced their utilization compared to the normal users. Assistive technology is anticipated to empower and improve independence for such a category of people so that they are not prone to double-cross at any time they are interacting with such point of sale systems.   ATMs have are such useful and they came in to rescue bank customers from the long queues and all. But amid all the benefits they come with, they too can be frustrating depending on their design and structure during usage. Standard ATMs for any other person have their challenges but for the blind and visual impaired too, they experience the following challenges and inconvenience’s :-

·        Inability to locate the ATM. This is due to the fact that they can’t see or even tell the corners where the systems are installed.

·        Inability to see the ATM screens clearly. This also can be due to the location of the ATM. It is even difficult for them view the contents of the ATM menu on the screen.

·        Waiting in the queue for long hours due to breakdowns or network problems from the central bank server.  If the other users in the queue experience difficulties in using the machine because of their inability, this will mean you also waiting a little bit longer in the queue.

·        With their inability to see, the visually impaired users will now and gain use trial methods inserting the ATM card which they can repeat doing wrongly. This problem remains more common with blind ATM users since they are not familiar with their ATM cards card and can’t even see how they look other than touch and feel.

·        Getting money from the dispenser. Because of the same inability that they don’t see, the blind users will struggle to collect their money after dispensation. 

·        Because most ATM screens have been designed to be used by the normal user with no cognitive challenges, the blind may not perform some operations. Generally, the blind users will find the instructions on how to perform operations quite difficult to understand. Even on mastering the interactive screen, the blind users may find different ATMs with different menu options whose arrangement is opposite to the corresponding menu keys. 

·        In an event that the visually impaired requires further transactions, such as check balance or print statement or even top-up a mobile phone it will even be more difficult for such a person given that there are no such straight provisions.

·        The visually impaired may have to wait stranded in an event that the ATM swallows the card.

·        The visually impaired will always find it difficult entering of keying in PIN numbers, since some ATMs may lack Simulation systems as well as choosing the transaction option may also remain a challenge.

AIM AND OBJECTIVES

The proposed study aimed at creating a simulation program that shall attempt to determine how ATM devices programmed purposely to be used by illiterate blind and visually impaired Nigerians who understands Hausa or Pigeon-English Language can be effective.

Specifically, the proposed system has the following objectives; -

·        The proposed ATM device shall be simulated to allow its users to cash money, check balance, pay bill and change PIN.

·        For easy access to money from any outlet even without going to the bank which the Blind and visual impaired are banking with.

·        To reduce stress from withdrawing money.

·        To enable the blind and visual impaired Nigerians enjoy information and telecommunication technology.

·        To pave a way for the blind and visually impaired Nigerians who understand these languages (Hausa and Pigeon-English) to have access and make use of ATM devices.