The bank for a changing world

What solutions will break down the barrier of disability?

  • 08.08.2017

More than one billion people, or around 15% of the world population, live with a form of disability. At BNP Paribas, we work to simplify access to our branches, products and services for people with disabilities. In every region where we operate, we innovate to ensure their banking experience is as streamlined and pleasant as possible. Below is a summary of our recent efforts in this area.

In Belgium, physical and digital measures crowned with success

In 2016, BNP Paribas Fortis, became the first company in Belgium to receive the European Disability Matters award for its actions to improve the accessibility of its banking services for disabled customers

Today, 25% of the bank’s branches are now fully equipped to welcome individuals with reduced mobility including: reserved parking spots and automatic doors; shorter desks; and spaces designed to offer maximum comfort to customers in wheelchairs.

BNP Paribas Fortis has also made it even easier to access its Easy Banking service on both web and mobile:

  • Card reader with large buttons for people with visual or hand motor impairment 
  • Audio description and voice assistance for visually impaired customers
  • Sign language translation (including in branches, via mobile app), enabling deaf or hearing-impaired customers to contact the Easy Banking Center

In Italy, an app to interact with hearing impaired customers 

Italy is home to some 70,000 deaf or hearing impaired  people. BNL, the Group’s subsidiary in Italy, partnered with the startup Pedius to develop a mobile app enabling deaf and hearing impaired customers to access services via voice recognition and speech synthesis technologies. Customers can perform essential operations with complete autonomy, including disputing charges or transferring money.  

The process is simple: customers use their smartphone to send a simple text request to a dedicated message service. After the telephone support representative listens to the message through speech synthesis, their answer is transcribed to text to be read by the hearing impaired customer.  

BNL is the 1st Italian bank to use this innovation to offer three basic banking services to its deaf and hearing impaired customers: 

  1. Obtaining information about their credit and debit cards
  2. Obtaining details from their bank statement
  3. Talking with a live representative over an adapted phone service

BNL also equipped 2,000 ATMs at more than 1,000 locations with a voice feature for blind and visually impaired customers

In the United States, opening the door for disabled customers 

Across the pond, the Group’s subsidiary Bank of the West is meeting the anti-discrimination standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it builds and renovates its branches and ATMs. In 2016, the bank focused on doors, parking lot access and buttons in Braille. 

The ADA is a U.S. law passed in 1990 that prohibits any form of discrimination against people with disabilities, including at public and commercial  establishments. It is one of the country’s pioneering laws in terms of accessibility in public and private spaces.  

Mission Handicap at BNP Paribas: in France, promoting jobs for disabled workers 

Since 2008, Mission Handicap at BNP Paribas has worked to promote employment, workforce integration and workforce retention for disabled workers in France, in compliance with the company’s agreements in this area. In connection with its third agreement, signed in 2016 for a period of four years, BNP Paribas committed to recruiting 200 disabled employees by 2019, or 50 per year. 

Mission Handicap is part of BNP Paribas’s global policy to promote inclusion of people with disabilities and to combat discrimination. That policy was strengthened in June 2016 with the signing of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Business & Disability Charter, through which the Group has not only committed to hiring workers with disabilities for our global operations, but also to changing the way society views disabilities.

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