In each issue of 'beyond the I', this column presents a first-hand account of a visually impaired person's experiences in the 'real' world. In this issue, Pranay Gadodia recounts a positive encounter at a bank.
I had heard that people with visual impairment have faced resistance from banks if they want A.T.M. cum Debit cards issued. So when I wanted to open an account in the State Bank of India (S.B.I.), I took our office assistant to avoid denials and hassles. I have night blindness, a type of low vision, and thus could manage in the bank with my assistant's help and tips, and got my card.
One evening, at around 7 p.m., I needed to withdraw cash from my newly opened S.B.I. account. So I started searching with my night-blind eyes for a State Bank A.T.M. in that area of New Delhi. After enquiring locally and walking for a while I reached a State Bank of Patiala A.T.M. beside its branch. This was only the second use of my A.T.M. card, and I had to strain my eyes to see what was written in blue colour on the blue design screen and press the keys accordingly. Then I heard the cash being counted and coming out of the machine. I put my hand beneath the console but, unlike the previous A.T.M., the cash outlet was not located there. The A.T.M. started beeping and I also heard the ejection of my card. By the time I took the cash from the cash outlet, there was another sound in the card slot. I realised that my card had probably been swallowed by the machine, which was confirmed by the security guard there. I was not aware that the machine takes the card back if the user does not take it within 10 seconds. The guard told me that I could get the card back from the branch manager the next day during working hours.
I was sure the next day in the bank would be tough. While returning home, I was thinking of cordial ways to get the card back; if not that then of the arguments I would have to make to convince the manager that I could use my card safely on my own. If he decided to send the card to my S.B.I. branch, then I would have to convince my bank that the mistake of not taking out the card of the machine in time was because I was not aware of the 10-second system; it was not to do with my low vision.
I reached bank the next morning at 10:30 a.m., with my indispensable white cane. Inside, a peon and an official guided me, with proper directions, to the deputy manager. Backed up with the sword of my arguments, I told him politely about the incident. He confirmed if the card was in my name. Shattering all my apprehensions, he told me to just write an application and he would get it. I still had my doubts and had my explanations ready. I had to wait for half-an-hour as he was busy with some other things, though in between he assured me that he would get it soon. While I was waiting, another official asked me if I had got my card, then he reminded the manager. Later the manager himself took me to the machine and took out my A.T.M. card. He confirmed my identity from my election identity card because I had not signed my A.T.M. card till then. He made me to sign it there and returned it to me.
I thanked him for being so helpful and not acting bureaucratic. He reminded me that the next time I use an A.T.M., I should take out the card first. He explained that people tended to forget their cards in the machine after use, so this system had been put in place. When I told him that the screen colours were not very accessible for low vision people, he said that he would suggest this to the concerned department which made newer designs.
All in all, I had a good experience.
Do you have an 'everyday' experience you would like to recount? Write in to us at.