The Nigeria Association of the Blind on Tuesday, 25th October, 2022, expressed their challenges in terms of accessing banks websites and mobile applications for persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
In this interview with FIKUNMI SOKOYA, Mr. Adeola Aina, Administrative Officer for the Nigerian Association of the Blind speaks on the association’s challenges and expectation of banks and mobile applications usability and accessibility for persons who are with disabilities in Nigeria.
Can you tell us what prompted the association of the blind to conduct an audit on financial institutions accessibility?
What prompted the audit is the realization of the exclusion of a lot of disabled people from the things that happen in the financial institutions. There are other aspects of the project which also involves having a focused group discussion with the banks to come up with a policy document also talking about physical access to the banks, like access to ATM machines, banking and other aspects in the project. But this particular audit is for access to websites and apps of the financial institutions. The audit is being sponsored by Disability Rights Funds (DRF).
Can you tell us some of the challenges you have in terms of accessing Banks Apps and their websites ?
Some of the challenges are not being able to complete transactions while using the USSD due to timing. Some of the bank apps can’t be accessed expect we are assisted because at times we have to put off the talk back to access some of the facilities on the app and by doing so, we can’t continue the process because we are unable to see what to click on next. There are so many challenges we are facing I must confess.
Having mentioned some of the challenges, what are your expectations from the financial institutions?
Our expectation is to see the financial institutions that are being regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to be compelled to make their websites, mobile applications, money wallet, USSD ,etc, usable and accessible for persons who are with disabilities in Nigeria particularly the blind and other clusters that may have accessibility issues.
What are your recommendations and demands to banks for better services with persons with disabilities?
Our demands cut across physical barriers which prevents people with disabilities from entering the banks. For example if you look at the banks that come up in your head right now, people on wheelchairs can’t go into banks, the cashiers’ counter is always too high for dwarfs and such. Someone that’s hearing impaired can’t communicate with the bank officials. The blind for instance, have issues around filling tellers, not getting atm cards because of blindness. These are few examples of what people with disabilities face at the banks and we want them to have a policy document that includes people with disabilities in all aspects of financial activities in Nigeria. A policy document that includes training of staffs to be able to meet the needs of persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
How can the government weigh on the challenges faced by the people with disabilities?
The government has done their part by signing in the disability act in 2019. Lagos state also has a special people’s law that was signed in 2012, and even other states have their own signed disability laws into the constitution of the county. Nigeria is also part of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and there are also sustainable development goals which says that ‘leave no one behind’, so the government has done what it can, it’s up to the regulatory authorities of the banks to compel them to do the needful and deal with erring banks.
Can you tell us how the association of the blind came about?
Nigerian Association of the Blind National is an association of just blind persons. All the members are blind, it is an association of the blind, by the blind and for the blind. It is run by the blind even though it is regulated by the government and has laws, constitution and regulations that guides it. The mission of the association is to have a world of total inclusion. The association advocates for equal rights for blind people in Nigeria and there are different state chapters all over the country. There is the National, State and Local levels and this particular project is being conducted by the National Association. The association fights against all forms of discrimination against blind people, it advocates for education, employment, creating job opportunities and making life easy for blind people in Nigeria. The National Secretariat is located in Lagos and it shares with the Lagos state secretariat.