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               WORLD CONSUMER RIGHTS DAY - 15                     TH  MARCH

                                                             INACCESSIBLE ONLINE
                                                             BANKING SYSTEMS TO BLIND
                                                             AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED

                                                             March 15, 2021, consumers of all
                                                             countries celebrated World
                                                             Consumer Rights Day, the aim of
               which was to raise awareness about a consumer's needs and rights and
               ensure that they are not subject to social injustice or market abuse that
               may undermine their rights.

               President John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US
               Congress on March 15, 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of
               consumer rights, inspired world Consumer Rights Day. He was the first
               world leader to do so.

               Banking apps and online banking systems are equivalent to having a bank
               close to you 24 hours and seven days a week.  These systems enable one
               to perform various banking transactions independently (without human
               assistance) such as adding or removing a beneficiary, getting a
               statement, organising schedule payments, etc. Banking apps and online
               banking systems are more efficient to sighted persons as compared to
               walk-ins and cellphone banking. Cellphone banking enables blind people
               to do banking independently to a certain extent but has some limitations
               that includes inability to add or remove beneficiaries independently.

               Currently, blind and partially sighted consumers in South Africa are not
               able to fully enjoy access to online banking systems, because, they are
               not accessible to blind screen readers. This happens, despite the fact that
               the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, Clause
               9. guarantees all citizens with the right to equality and non-discrimination
               on the ground of disability.  To give effect to this, the Promotion of
               Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000, Clause 9.
               Maintains that:
                   ❖  “no person may unfairly discriminate against any person on the
                       ground of disability”, including:
                   ❖  “failing to eliminate obstacles that unfairly limit or restrict persons
                       with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities or failing to take
                       steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons.”

               Furthermore, South Africa ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of
               Persons with Disabilities in 2007.

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