Commonwealth Bank Disability Discrimination and the Albert machines

In 2018 disability advocates, Graeme and Nadia, bravely challenged CommBank’s inaccessible EFTPOS technology in court. With the backing of Grata Fund and the expert team at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre they forced CommBank to agree to make changes to touchpad EFTPOS machine to make it accessible and secure for blind and vision-impaired people.

Screenshot of SBS reporter reporting on Albert terminal case

The touchpads, commonly known as Albert terminals, are found in cafes, and retailers across Australia may look good but they pose significant issues for blind and vision-impaired Australians. The touchscreens have no fixed buttons, which makes it difficult to identify where numbers are when entering a PIN. 

After an unsuccessful attempt to get CBA to hault the rollout of the machines and  make the changes themselves, Nadia Mattiazzo, Graeme Innes the former Disability Discrimination Commisioner were forced to make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission. And after 18 months at the table attempting conciliation they had no luck. 

Left with no other choice and aided by backing of Grata supporters and the expert legal team at PIAC Nadia and Graeme took the matter to the Federal Court. 

After a year in court, CommBank agreed to make changes to the machines, introducing new accessibility software and endorsing the Australian Banking Association Accessibility Principles for Banking Services as well as committing to ensuring accessibility is a key requirement of product development. Making future technology fairer and more accessible to all Australians. 

“CBA could of done exactly what we’ve been calling on them to do for over 2 years now and that is to cease the rollout of this inaccessible device, whilst they found a solution that actually worked.” Emma Benninson, Blind Citizens Australia.  

Without the generous support of the Grata community Nadia and Graeme may not have been able to push CBA to recognise there is a problem and agree to do something about it. 

“We need to design things in our society, whether they’re trains or electronic commerce so that every member of our society can use them, not just the majority of members.” Graeme Innes, former Disability Discrimination Comissioner.  

The Grata Community will continue to support brave people like Graeme and Nadia challenge corporate leaders and protect human rights.

For more information read this article published by the ABC.