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SA banks urged to consider disabled people

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SA banks urged to consider disabled people

by BuaNews Online
16 Mar 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Banking institutions in South Africa have been urged to consider the needs of people with disabilities, following complaints by the disabled who struggle to access banking facilities and services.

"The South African Human Rights Commission [SAHRC] is concerned about this state of affairs and has urged the banking institutions to be more sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities.

"To this end, the institution is asking the banks to redesign their facilities and other offerings so that they become more accessible to people with disabilities," the SAHRC said on Friday.

To address the situation, the Commission has made a number of recommendations which include among others that the banking institutions redesign the Automated Teller Machines to allow for more universal application of the facilities.

Another recommendation includes creating a workplace environment that is accommodative of the needs of employees with disabilities, becoming more sensitive to their needs.

"This means that conditions in the workplace should be such that an employee with a disability is able to function with minimal assistance - making premises to be more physically accessible and rescheduling work hours to suit their needs as well as providing assistive devices."

The SAHRC further said 2 percent of the employment equity fund earmarked for the employment of people with disabilities should be exceeded bearing in mind that people with mental and other disabilities must also be included in this quota.

The Commission also urged banks to consider to lower service charges or setting a nominal charge in light of the fact that in South Africa poverty and unemployment are directly correlated with disabilities.

People with disabilities are dependent on disability grants and predominantly occupy low income positions, said the SAHRC.

It was also recommended that banking institutions create corporate social responsibility programmes, and invest in the development of persons with disabilities.

The SAHRC said the principle of universal design must be adhered to which allows for easy access into and through the buildings, ramps, automatic doors, toilets and other points of entry in and around the buildings should also be built.

Braille and large print forms, assistance in filling of forms, effective lighting, large screen computer displays, tactile touch pads, parking bays, evacuation procedures, elevators that are voice-activated and facilities with Braille facilities are also imperative, advised the SAHRC.

"It is imperative that inclusive policy and integration by the banking institutions and such institutions occurs at the level of ensuring equality for all citizens.

"This necessitates that all industries and sectors consider how transformation will increase access and participation to all South Africans."

In order to explore these issues further, the Commission will hold a roundtable discussion at the Human Rights House on Monday from 9am until noon. Participants will include ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank.

The roundtable forms part of the Commission's Human Rights Month Campaign of engaging with business.

The campaign which is titled, Business, Development and Poverty, will culminate in a national two-day conference to be held at the Nedbank, Sandton Auditorium, on Tuesday. - BuaNews

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System

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