Speech Technology Magazine


CIBC Introduces Audio Access ABMs

TORONTO, CANADA - CIBC announced the introduction of Audio Access ABM (automated banking machine) service as part of plans for improving access to and upgrading of its network of ABMs across the country.
Posted Oct 1, 2002
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TORONTO, CANADA - CIBC announced the introduction of Audio Access ABM (automated banking machine) service as part of plans for improving access to and upgrading of its network of ABMs across the country. CIBC Audio Access ABMs allow customers with visual impairments and the elderly to plug personal headphones into an audio jack and follow natural sounding voice instructions in English or French for completing any ABM transaction using the number keypad. Audio access customers can protect their privacy by choosing to blank out the bank machine screen so they can feel confident that no one is observing their transactions. CIBC's roll out of Audio Access ABMs begins with installation of 27 units at selected branches in cities across the country by the end of October. A total of 600 Audio Access ABMs will be in place at more than half of CIBC's branches by September 2003. "Installing Audio Access ABMs at all of our branches is a key part of our plan to help virtually all Canadians do their banking at ABMs conveniently and with confidence," said Christina Kramer, vice-president, ABM channel and card management services, CIBC. "We have already started an aggressive program for upgrading our network infrastructure and replacing our ABMs with state-of-the-art hardware to deliver improved and expanded service to customers, including people with special access needs." CIBC ABM network and service upgrades include: Providing ABMs designed for persons using wheelchairs or having restricted mobility in all barrier-free branch locations. In addition to providing audio access service, these ABMs are installed at a lower height with curved parcel shelves for easier wheelchair access, grab bars for persons with mobility impairments, ABM screens with high contrast colors, and improved task lighting to assist the elderly and partially sighted. CIBC is committed to making all new branches fully barrier-free, and to retrofit existing branches whenever a new entrance or other significant renovation is undertaken. Installation of 1,300 new or upgraded full function ABMs in branches featuring larger screens using high quality graphics and colors for greater readability and integration of passbook update capability. Replacement of 50 CIBC drive-through ABMS to ensure screens are readable in sunlight. CIBC benefited from the expertise and assistance of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in the development and testing of the Audio Access ABM service to ensure that it meets the needs of the over 100,000 CNIB clients and Canadians who are unable to read print because of a disability. "The CNIB strongly supports the development of fully accessible ABMs," said Jim Sanders, CNIB president and CEO. "Features such as Braille, audio, large print and enhanced lighting allow more than three million Canadians to independently manage their financial affairs." CIBC has been actively involved in the development of the new technical standards on ABM accessibility published by the Canadian standards association and has been working with NCR, the leading global provider of ABM hardware, software and services, and with SpeechWorks International, Inc., on the design and development of the Audio Access ABMs to ensure they meet the requirements of customers with special needs. "Canadian financial institutions like CIBC are among the global leaders in implementing accessible ABMs, and we look forward to working with the bank as it strengthens its network of barrier-free ABMs across Canada," said Nicholas Hames, vice president of NCR Canada's Financial Solutions Division. "The audio ABM is an excellent example of how NCR is using 'enabling' technology to offer all consumers greater access to self-service banking. The audio ABM uses NCR's APTRA ABM software, combined with an on-line text-to-speech converter, to generate spoken language. The APTRA software recognizes when a headphone is inserted into the jack and automatically triggers an audio-enabled session that can then be customized by the consumer." CIBC's Audio Access ABMs feature SpeechWorks' Speechify Solo embedded speech synthesis technology, which converts text into spoken language, allowing customers with visual impairments to complete transactions by listening to spoken instructions in English or French. "SpeechWorks is pleased to support CIBC's nationwide rollout of ABMs to support the requirements of persons with visual impairments," said Steve Chambers, chief marketing officer at SpeechWorks. "Speechify Solo's high quality, natural sounding voice will ensure an excellent user experience for CIBC's Audio Access ABM customers."
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