Earlier this month the MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) became the only credit union on the SC24 ATM network to offer a full service audio guided ATM for the visually impaired. The SC24 ATM network is Michigan's credit union ATM network and is managed by credit union owned Service Centers Corporation (SCC).
The new machine is designed to accept standard headphones that allow the user to listen to an audio guided tutorial. Following the tutorial the user can perform any type of transaction and will be told if any errors occur in the process. The ATM also offers an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) recommended key pad with larger buttons and more space in between the buttons.
The old machines offered Braille on the keypad, but not knowing the information being displayed on the screen or not being informed that a mistake had been made was a drawback. The full service audio ATM was recommended by Michael Hudson, the RCPD Director, several years ago and he has been supporting MSUFCU throughout the development of the machine.
On June 3, Hudson and Song-jae Jo, an MSU graduate student, were invited to be the first to test the new ATM at the Crescent Rd. location.
After use of the ATM, Hudson said, \The ATM is a dream come true! This is the first time I have ever been able to take full advantage of the features. Previously I had to memorize the keystrokes to perform transactions and the patterns for deposits and checking my balance were too long and complicated for memory. This was the first time I was able to independently carry out more than a withdrawal and the machine allows a higher level of confidence in what I'm doing."
Jo also had positive things to say regarding his experience with the ATM. "I liked the new machine very much. It was easy to follow the directions and it was convenient to use. Once new machines are installed, it will make the lives of people with visual impairment much easier. It will certainly enhance independence in the financial way."
Teresa Slaght the ATM/VISA services manager at the MSU Federal Credit Union is hoping the machines will have a big impact. She is expecting the full service ATMs to spread to several locations in the coming months. The Credit Union will be installing the audio guided machines at their Meridian, West Side, and Downtown East Lansing branches, as well as new machines at the International Center and the Union on the Michigan State University campus.
It is assumed that most users will supply their own headphones for use with the ATMs since the machines accept standard headphones that are used with portable audio devices like CD players. However, the MSU Federal Credit Union does plan to have a supply of headphones at each location. It is even hoped that the headphones can be distributed at first use and kept for future visits.
The initial cost of an ATM is approximately $30,000 and the additional technology adds about $3,500. The additional cost is due to network adjustments and new hardware needed for the machine. However, once an ATM model is converted to include the new technology each additional machine of the same model will have a negligible cost. Nevertheless, due to the large initial cost, high impact locations will be the Credit Union's first targets, and other locations will be added at later dates.
Hudson looks forward to the newer machines appearing at increased locations and believes that the full service ATM will benefit a large population of people. "I'm extremely pleased that RCPD can work with MSUFCU to bring this technology to the community, and many students and visitors."
Patrick McPharlin, the MSUFCU C.E.O. said, "MSU Federal Credit Union counts on the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities for recommendations on how to better serve the physically disabled. Past efforts have included making our branches and ATM's wheelchair accessible, we installed a TDD for the hearing impaired and work toward making our website more compatible with our visually impaired members' needs. MSU Federal Credit Union plans to continue the effort to provide the latest technology to its members with disabilities and working toward making our services easily accessible to all our members."