A new product will help credit card issuers comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act while giving the visually impaired an easy way to identify the plastic cards in their wallets.
San Francisco-based Accubraille is marketing braille credit cards, to make accounts more accessible to the blind.
The company also produces braille stickers and guides for automated teller machines. The products are intended to give-banks a cheaper method of complying with the disabilities act than voice activation.
Equal Access Required
Enacted in 1990, the act requires public facilities to provide easy access to people with handicaps and requires all services be made accessible to all parties regardless of disability.
While businesses are not policed for violations, they could be subject to penalties if a lawsuit is filed against them.
Darien Werfhorst, Accubraille sales and marketing administrator, said ATM braille stickers have been a "phenomenal success" for the company, but the demand has not been as high for the new service.
"We've had a small but interested response," Ms. Werfhorst said.
Since the card's introduction in May, Horns Department Store in Pittsburgh has ordered two cards and the state of Missouri has ordered about 75 telephone cards in braille.
2 Million Blind People
Despite the slow start, Ms. Werfhorst said, "I think it will catch on." She pointed out that while the blind make up less than 1% of the nation's population, the total adds up to about two million people who could use the service.
"The brailled credit card is logical continuation of ATM service," said Ms. Werfhorst
With ATM cards in braille, the blind will be less dependent on salespeople and bank officers for assistance, Accubraille contends.
Ms. Werfhorst hopes that banks will inform customers of the service through personal communication or direct mail as they open new accounts.
Any standard-size plastic credit card can be imprinted with braille, and will cost the is - suer up to $2 a card. Brailling, which replaces standard printing, generally consists of the customer's name, the card issuer's name, and the account number.