Thursday, December 16, 2010

When pin numbers are compromised

We are living in an age where touch screen technology has now become a reality and for many it is a blessing; but for others like me, it is a great concern. As a blind person, I feel very much at sea whenever I am asked to depend on sighted assistance to get things done.

Touch screen technology means that I now have to depend on sighted assistance to carry out my transactions and in many cases this will mean that I will have to divulge my pin number to the one who is helping me. On the surface, some people may not think that this should be such a problem but here is the real concern. The minute one’s pin number is given to a second party; one’s contract with the financial institution that issued the pin number has been broken.

In short: If I as a blind person find myself in a situation whereby I need assistance to use a touch screen in order to complete a transaction, it means that I will need to divulge my pin number to a sighted person and the minute I do so I would be breaking my contract with the financial institution that issued the pin number to me.

I do not believe that financial institutions have really given much thought to this, and as for the sighted world, they probably have not either. But I am sure that they would do so if they were directly affected. So as I see it, there are two major concerns for blind and sight impaired persons when it comes to touch screen technology.

First, the divulging of one’s pin number leads to the breaking of a contract between customer and financial institution, and second, the blind or sight impaired person has no control when it comes to being able to independently complete transactions on their own. All that they can do is to trust the one that is assisting them.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and share my blogs with others. Visit www.nfb.org to learn more about the challenges being faced by blind and sight impaired persons when it comes to touch screen technology.

1 comment:

  1. Donna,
    You raise some very interesting points - especially with respect to the breach of contract.
    Have you had any experience with the iPad's VoiceOver technology? It is a screen-reader which comes with the iPad straight out of the box. I - though sighted - like to turn it on and use it as a easy-to-understand and trendy way to demo accessibility to non-technical people.
    I think it works well as an example of how screen-reader technology can be used with touch screen technology... my only criticism is that it reads my passwords out loud, though for a mobile device head phones could probably address that.

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