Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Problem with Entering Pin Numbers

Here is the problem as I see it.

If the keypad is not one where I can hear what I enter, then it is inaccessible and consequently I am wide open to both error as well as security breaches.  In the case of error, I have to trust that I am pressing the correct keys and in the case of security breaches anyone can easily see what I am entering by looking at the screen over my shoulder.


If I am unable to hear what I enter then there is no way for me to know whether or not I have made an error and I have to depend on sighted assistance in the form of a clerk to tell me what has transpired.  This means that they will have to watch as I enter my pin number; no getting around this.


There may be a way to address the first concern; that is, if the manufacturer were to find a way to imbed talking software in their keypads.  I could use headphones to enable me to hear what I enter.  In the case of the second concern, I wonder if the manufacturers could have some sort of shield or sleeve made to fit over the screen and keypad so as to allow for privacy.


Blind persons have to be especially careful when it comes to guarding their privacy in public; they need to ensure that their pin numbers are safe from prying eyes and potential scammers.  What we need is to have manufacturers understand our concern and hopefully we can find a solution to these concerns.  To learn more about our concerns, you can visit


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and tell the rest of the world about our concerns. 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I am sitting here a wee touch dumbfounded at your lack of knowledge of PIN pads. At least the PIN pads you speak of are tactile. Some chain stores are moving towards flat touch screen pin pads on which you wouldn't have a hope in hell of entering your pin independently at all.

    Several things. 1. Even talking bank machines do not speak your pin aloud into headphones. The reason is the same reason your screenreader will not speak your password as you type it. On the screen is being written ***. I have noted this with RBC, BMO and TD machines. This is universal I'm pretty sure.

    2. Take note on a PIN pad the dot on the 5. Most PIN pads have these. If this is not present, simply ask the clerk where the 1 is. I have never seen a PIN pad not laid out in the telephone style keypad. If you can dial a phone independently, you can work one of these babies. Once this is done, most clerks will purposefully look away so as not to see your PIN.

    3. Place your other hand over your hand pushing buttons. This will make it harder for people to see your hand. and people can't see the screen where your PIN is being written for the same reason as I have stated before. *** is being written on the screen. Also, if you go fast enough, even if your other hand isn't covering it, people can't keep up with you. I have often heard "Wow, you're done?" because I have gone so fast.

    I hope you actually read the comments on your blog. You might learn something.

  3. And you complain of inaccessible PINS and right in front of you, you create a barrier, a word verification. Learn about the blogger setting you would need to use to turn it off and then come back and talk about removing accessibility barriers.

  4. Carin,

    Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts. It's much appreciated.

    As for the unfortunate word verification feature, it was the lesser of evils, as it's the only thing preventing more spam than I already encounter daily.

    Again, thank you for reading and commenting.


    Donna Jodhan

  5. Why not use moderation? That would allow you to reject spam and accept proper comments. I don't know if you've noticed, but when the captcha is letters,
    which often happens on your blog, the audio captcha option does not work. So I must resort to Solona or WebVisum. And, you do not make it clear that I
    will encounter a captcha, so I must fire up my friendly neighbourhood captcha cracker of choice. I hit post, and ca blammo! What's that? captcha? It just
    isn't cool.
    Or, you could implement a third-party commenting system like Echo, which has its own spam filter. We have that on our blog and we pay $10 a year for it.
    Just some things to think about.

  6. Incidentally, that comment forced me to try five times and use two different browsers. Is that accessible? If you're going to treat accessibility like that, why should anyone be persuaded to go the extra mile? I mean, the people you supposedly advocate for are locked out unless they have an iron will.

  7. Carin, thanks for all this information. I'm in the midst of transitioning web developer help, but will investigate everything you've shared to try to make things here more accessible. Thank you again for your persistence in getting the comments posted.

    Best regards,