Eyeway Stories

The Battle For Equal Access

Despite being educated, individuals with vision impairment are often regarded as illiterate, simply because they use a thumb impression instead of a signature for accessing basic banking facilities. Such discrimination poses a significant challenge in building an inclusive economy.

The Eyeway Helpdesk is doing its part to combat this issue by providing relevant information and support. Our counselors are flooded with numerous calls from blind people across India who are denied banking facilities on grounds of disability.

This issue is exemplified by the recent experiences of two individuals, Aditya Swami and Ramakant Prabhakar from Delhi and Bihar. Both are blind and hail from modest backgrounds. Their local State Bank of India (SBI) branches refused to issue them cheque books because they were blind and could not sign.

The Eyeway Helpdesk counselor helped them by providing three relevant documents from the Reserve Bank of India, the Indian Bank Association, and the State Bank of India master circular, highlighting the parts that could help educate the SBI managers. But when the managers refused to comply, the counselor got on a call with them and insisted them to issue a written denial of the said services. This prompted the managers to take immediate action and Aditya Swami and Ramakant Prabhakar obtained their cheque books.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, as many blind and visually impaired persons face discrimination from both government and private banks. Despite the introduction of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016, we are far from creating a truly inclusive society. It is essential that government ensures the implementation of the policies on ground so that all citizens have equal access to basic banking facilities like loans, credit cards, opening their own individual accounts, ATM cards and so on.

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