Who Reads Braille on Drive-Through ATMs?
By Reed Tucker

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Usually machines equipped with Braille remind us that humans are generally compassionate and considerate. But finding Braille on drive-through ATMs is almost as disconcerting as discovering it in the cockpit of a plane. What gives? Are blind people really swinging by in their Chevys to make a withdrawal?

"Blind people don't drive, so it's kind of a running joke around here," says Lauri Shropshire, a National Federation of the Blind coordinator. But Shropshire says a blind person could be riding in the back seat with someone else driving.

While some may joke about Braille on ATM drive-throughs, it is required by law. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, enacted in 1992, all ATMs must be "independently usable by blind users," says Nessa Feddis, senior federal counsel for the American Bankers Association.

The machines don't quite work that way, says Shropshire. Although they are equipped with Braille, blind people still need someone to read the screen to them. One company is currently developing voice-guided ATMs, which would solve that problem. But it probably won't end the jokes.

--Reed Tucker